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House of Commons Hansard #17 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was voters.

Topics

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the agreement we reached with the Afghan government last May enables us to have a clear process. Unlike what the government before us did, with this agreement we have conducted 32 interviews with Taliban prisoners and we are making sure that this agreement is respected.

As I said earlier, I spoke with my counterpart this morning. An investigation is currently underway in Afghanistan. This investigation will have clear results. We offered Canada's help and cooperation to the Afghan government, should it need it.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, the media is reporting today that money is being transferred between departments and the Department of Human Resources and Social Development. The article implies that certain initiatives, particularly residential school payments, are being dipped into to finance other programs.

First nations have fought very hard for this compensation and deserve these payments, so could I ask the minister to assure this House that money set aside to compensate all eligible residential school students will get to them?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, the implication that money has been taken from the residential schools programming to fund another program is completely false.

In fact, the $82 million in the newspaper article has already been sent out to elderly residential school students in a special advance payment. The total of $1.9 billion that was set aside for the common experience payment for residential school students is available to them. It is being processed and the money is being delivered as we speak. Eligible students are getting their money.

First nations did work very hard for this agreement. I am very proud to say that this government signed that agreement with them. That is good news for aboriginal people who have cited this as a historic step forward, and we are happy to work with them.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Dawn Black NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government has been forced to release thousands of pages of reports that detail abuse and torture in Afghanistan.

Despite being obligated under the detainee agreement to track all prisoners captured by Canadian Forces, the documents clearly show it does not have the resources to do the job. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has said again that it does not have the resources to do the job either.

Will the government admit it has failed to live up to the agreement, and what steps will it take to ensure that it--

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I said, what we did and what I did personally this morning was I called my counterpart in Afghanistan. He assured me that this government and his government will do an investigation, a full, complete investigation, and he is going to keep our government involved in that.

The agreement that we signed is working. We are dealing with the Afghan government. We want to be sure that they respect their obligation and we want to help them to respect their obligation if they need to.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Dawn Black NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, somehow I do not think a phone call is going to cut it.

The government should not be proud of the fact that it is reporting cases of abuse and torture. It should be ashamed that we are not doing the job that we are obligated to do under international agreements we have signed.

Right now, Canadian policy is to hand over detainees to the Afghan authorities and hope they do the best they can. I am sorry, I am truly sorry, but the men and women of the Canadian Forces deserve better from the government.

Why does the government continue to place our--

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we are doing our work. We did 32 interviews with Taliban prisoners. We have a full and complete process, an open process. We released yesterday all of the details about what we are doing right now and what we did in the past. It is very clear. It is very transparent. We are working with the Afghan government on this.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, we learned yesterday about another specific case of torture involving a prisoner in Afghanistan. Let us be clear: this is torture.

Canada has a responsibility to take these allegations seriously. When will Canada show some leadership? When will it stop transferring prisoners to Afghan authorities? When will it make it clear, once and for all, that torture is simply unacceptable?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we signed an agreement that allows us to improve upon the previous agreement signed by the previous government, an agreement that was not the best of all NATO countries.

What we now have is an agreement that meets the highest standards. We are working with the Afghan government to ensure that, when Taliban prisoners are transferred, the agreement is respected. As I said earlier, there is now an investigation under way in Afghanistan into the treatment of prisoners.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect us to take a leadership role in this issue, not take a page out of the Republican handbook when it comes to the use of torture.

These are specific allegations that the government is specifically choosing to ignore. The Prime Minister likes to cite the existence of an agreement, but he surely cannot be satisfied that the matter is therefore closed.

Allegations of torture continue. Despite the agreement, is the minister not concerned about the mounting specific cases of torture? Or is he content to sit idly by as more detainees are tortured?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, here is what the Globe and Mail said about the agreement we signed, the improved agreement: “The new deal transforms Canada into the standard-bearer for all foreign countries in the monitoring of transferred prisoners in Afghanistan”.

We have a good agreement. We are following it. We have a process. We are in discussions with the Afghan government. It is doing an investigation there and will keep us informed.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, extremely disturbing video footage has been released in the case of the man tragically killed by a taser in the Vancouver International Airport last month.

Canadians want answers now before more lives are lost.

Is it standard operating procedure for the RCMP to use tasers when there is no obvious physical threat?

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, any of us who watched that video footage can certainly understand the shock and the grief experienced especially by the mother of the deceased individual. Our hearts go out to her.

I can also say that the RCMP is doing an investigation of this and the chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP is also doing an investigation. There is a coroner's inquest. I have also asked for a review in terms of the use of tasers. We want to make sure that things are maintained, that public safety is maintained and the answers are found on this particular issue.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, today the Liberal critic for public safety called for public hearings into the overall use of taser weapons.

We on this side of the House are taking action on this case. In the public interest, will the minister support the Liberal call for public hearings on taser use?

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, before the Liberal call on this, I had asked for a review related to the use of tasers.

In terms of this particular very tragic incident, we have the RCMP doing its investigation, but also, the chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP is looking into the matter with an investigation. There is a coroner's inquest going on.

There are other reviews going on relating to the use of tasers. The province of Quebec has just completed one that has valuable and helpful information. This will continue.

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, a study by the World Economic Forum suggests that the gender gap has an impact on the competitiveness and economy of countries. The larger the gender gap, the lower the competitiveness. According to the same report, Canada slipped in world rankings on gender equality from 14th to 18th.

In light of this, does the minister intend to act and take tangible action for women, by adopting proactive pay equity legislation for instance?

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, of course, the Bloc Québécois member has failed, as usual, to mention the following facts. We did look at the report she is referring to and we are continuing to examine it, but it is important to understand that Canada has not regressed. It is simply that other countries have taken more proactive measures.

That said, the same report states that Canada has been maintaining good practices to promote gender equality in the country.

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the former heritage minister ignored advice from her own officials, cautioning against changing the objectives and funding criteria with respect to the Status of Women program, and we know what disastrous results that has had.

Does the current minister intend to be more receptive to advice not only from her own officials but also from organizations like the World Economic Forum, women's groups and all the opposition parties, which are telling her that she is on the wrong track?

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to point out to my colleague from the Bloc that her microphone is working.

Of course, since August, I have met with many groups, and women's groups in particular. Our government has done right by women, increasing by 42% the program budget for Status of Women Canada. Why? Because we are results oriented.

The fact of the matter is that, scream as she may, the Bloc Québécois member will never be able to get anything for the women of Canada.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

November 15th, 2007 / 2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Liberal Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is unacceptable that a government with a $14 billion surplus is pilfering the money set aside to compensate victims of Indian residential schools so that it can cover the costs of other programs.

This is an insult to the survivors, as the government has already missed the deadline for the payments.

The government claimed that the funds came from reduced operating costs from the Indian residential schools trust. How can the government claim that the operating cost requirements have been reduced when there is a backlog of survivors waiting for compensation?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

I am assuming, Mr. Speaker, that the member just came into the House and the standing ovation we heard is for listening hard.

We answered this question earlier. The $82 million that was in question in the newspaper article has already been spent as an advance payment to seniors, former residential school students. That money has already been sent out. The full $1.9 billion that this government has negotiated with aboriginal people will be sent out. There have been no cutbacks whatsoever.

Aboriginal people deserve this settlement. Our government has settled with them. It is time to get on with making the payments to these students.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, last spring the Leader of the Opposition displayed just how out of touch his economic policy is for the 21st century. The policies that the shortsighted leader is proposing have not been in vogue since bell-bottoms and shag carpet. He is playing politics with Canada's economy by calling for a moratorium on foreign investment.

Could the Minister of Industry share with the House what the government is doing on foreign investment/state-owned enterprises and what are the findings of a 10 year study done by Statistics Canada?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of Industry

As we know, Mr. Speaker, foreign investment is very important to Canada. This government appreciates that, which is why we are continuing to ensure that Canada remains an attractive place to invest.

Foreign investment brings many benefits. In particular, the Statistics Canada report shows that foreign companies operating in Canada are more productive. They pay higher wages. They create more jobs. All of this contributes to research and development. It is all good news for Canada.

The recently appointed competition policy review panel, the so-called Red Wilson panel, will be further examining ways that we can increase our competitiveness in the global economy. I look forward to receiving its work.