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House of Commons Hansard #106 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environment.

Topics

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, this government is making dangerous blunders in foreign affairs.

The Prime Minister provoked the People's Republic of China. Not surprisingly, today, the Chinese authorities are no longer cooperating with our diplomats. A Canadian citizen, Huseyin Celil, faces serious danger in China's justice system.

Does this government understand now why it cannot take such a cavalier attitude toward diplomacy?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Helena Guergis ConservativeSecretary of State (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, the situation with Mr. Celil is a great concern to our government. The hon. member knows that we have on many occasions expressed to the Chinese government that we would like it to recognize his Canadian citizenship.

In fact, when the Prime Minister directly raised this with the president of China, it was the Liberal Party that highly criticized him. Quite frankly, the hon. member and the Liberal Party should be ashamed and embarrassed at their hypocrisy.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's statements about the Chinese government and human rights have strained relations with that country.

Huseyin Celil's basic rights are further threatened because of the Prime Minister's belligerent attitude toward China.

Will the Prime Minister agree that he is behaving recklessly and that his approach is placing a Canadian citizen in serious danger?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Helena Guergis ConservativeSecretary of State (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, I cannot honestly believe that question has come from that hon. member's mouth.

Again, this situation is of great importance to our government. We have had on several occasions not only the Prime Minister raising this directly with the president of China, but no less than five of our top ministers also raising it with their counterparts.

With respect to some allegations that we heard about the torture of Mr. Celil, we know China is a signatory to the UN convention against torture and we expect it will live up to its UN obligations.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister was so outraged over no Canadian presence at Celil's trial that he ordered our diplomats to find the courthouse and take a seat. Telling diplomats to attend a trial that they have no idea where or when it is being held is not the way to go about foreign affairs.

The Prime Minister has failed to honour his personal commitment to Mr. Celil.

Why will he not take the time to pick up the phone and speak to the Chinese president, register his concerns about the treatment of Mr. Celil and demand that our officials be told of the trial proceedings now?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Helena Guergis ConservativeSecretary of State (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, I do not think I need to point out the hypocrisy, again, where that member is concerned. We have on many times expressed and asked that the Chinese officials recognize the Canadian citizenship of Mr. Celil. We have, in fact, directed officials there to head to the site, to remain on site, to gain contact with Mr. Celil in order to give him the consular services he is entitled as a Canadian citizen.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me give that member, who has just started this file, a little insight as to why the Prime Minister refuses to stand up for Mr. Celil.

We know he can admit now that his ability to stand up for Mr. Celil was so severely limited when he accused China of spying and turned a recent meeting with the Chinese president into an international farce.

How is it possible for the Prime Minister, or that minister, to stand up for Mr. Celil when the Chinese view him as something of a bumbling cold warrior who views Canada's second largest trading partner with such blatant suspicion and contempt?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government, at all levels, has been clear. We view Mr. Celil as a Canadian citizen. At all opportunities, we have taken the time to raise his case, to express our concerns, to demand justice be done. Every time that member and the Liberal Party have said that we should say nothing, we should do nothing, we should take no action, just like they did with Mr. Arar and every Canadian citizen they forgot about when they were in office.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have learned that the Canadian army has just done an about-face and will no longer require its top brass to be bilingual. It seems that for a certain number of its anglophone senior staff, mastering a minimum of French is an impossible mission.

How can the Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages stand quietly by while the Canadian army steps back 40 years with regard to the use of the two official languages?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate our colleague for having put together a plan that shows our government's determination to promote both official languages. This strategy is based on results achieved by sound programs and policies that are more practical.

The transformation model provides a new plan that is clear, has specific objectives and has activities with measurable outcomes, while taking into account the operational requirements of the Canadian Forces.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the impact of the unwarranted closing of the only francophone military college in Saint-Jean is now being felt.

How can the francophones in this government calmly stand by while the army not only refuses to respect the spirit and the letter of the Official Languages Act but also perpetrates a serious injustice against francophone officers who are bilingual and could take on the responsibilities of those senior officers incapable of learning a bare minimum of French?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, this plan complies with the Official Languages Act and also accommodates the unique structure of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces.

Had the Bloc member truly wished to help francophones, particularly francophones outside Quebec, he would have enlisted support for Bill S-3.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the balance between the Canadian contingent's military and humanitarian activities in Afghanistan is not as perfect as the Minister of International Cooperation would have us believe. Again this morning, the media confirmed that unless the government restores the balance, the international effort could fail.

Does the government plan to make more of an effort to reconfigure the mission in Afghanistan?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know where the Bloc Québécois member was when the previous government allocated just $60 million per year for Afghanistan.

We increased that budget to $100 million. The Liberals spent a mere $5 million in the province of Kandahar. We have already spent over $16 million there and by the end of the year, we will have spent $20 million or more.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of International Cooperation thinks it is unfair to compare the funds allocated to each aspect of the mission. I would like to remind the minister that in Bosnia, the government spent $325 per person on humanitarian relief, but in Afghanistan, it is spending less than $50 per person.

In light of that huge gap, does the minister realize that the people of Afghanistan urgently need a better balance?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the member that that was the first thing we did this year. We pledged up to $100 million per year until 2011 to bring a better balance to this mission that, under the former government, was facing declining funding. That government was hoping to get better results by reducing the amount of money allocated to development.

Where was the member then?

MexicoOral Questions

February 8th, 2007 / 2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, last month a teenager from Woodbridge was killed while vacationing in Mexico. Two weeks later another hit and run killed a Chatham man. Just last Saturday a gunman opened fire and shot two more Canadians in Acapulco. All this has happened less than a year after the brutal murders of Dominic and Nancy Ianiero in Cancun.

Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs please tell the House what needs to happen before his department will finally issue a travel warning for Canadians visiting Mexico?

MexicoOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Helena Guergis ConservativeSecretary of State (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, the ongoing investigations in Mexico are of great concern to our government. Our condolences go out to all the families and friends of the victims who have experienced this violence.

We have travel reports that are put on line by the Department of Foreign Affairs to reflect up to date safety and security conditions, urging Canadians to always take precaution when they travel abroad. Even though we may prepare ourselves, there are those circumstances where nothing we do can prevent those crimes.

We have consular services for Canadians abroad that are available 24/7.

MexicoOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government needs to take its head out of the sand on this file. Canadians deserve to be notified that their safety could be in jeopardy while travelling in Mexico.

The foreign affairs minister has finally met with his Mexican counterpart. Could the Prime Minister tell the House what concrete assurances were received that Canadians would be protected while in Mexico, or could he tell the House that the minister has instructed his department to prepare an official travel warning?

MexicoOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Helena Guergis ConservativeSecretary of State (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs was in Mexico yesterday and is there today. He is raising the issue again with his counterpart, urging that there be very thorough, timely and transparent investigations for all these cases.

Again, I remind the member that there has always been a travel report in which it advises Canadians that there have been some random shootings and that they should exercise extra caution when travelling to Mexico.

DarfurOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Glen Pearson Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I urge the Conservative government to make a specific contribution to an emerging humanitarian catastrophe developing in south Sudan.

Fifty thousand Darfur refugees have converged in the region in recent weeks, with many more expected in the coming months. The International Organization for Migration and the United Nations are on the scene, but desperately need the help of the international community.

If the government committed just $6 million, it would mean the difference of between life and death for thousands of families. Will the government answer this plea and alleviate what is already a desperate situation?

DarfurOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, so far, the government has provided $35 million in humanitarian assistance to Darfur. This is indeed a very troubling situation, which we are monitoring very closely. However, we also have to make sure that relief workers are able to work in the safest conditions possible.

DarfurOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Glen Pearson Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I just returned from the region and I can tell the House that time is of the essence. The region cannot handle the influx of these refugees from Darfur. The International Organization for Migration and the United Nations are prepared to do the heavy lifting. They only requires the funds and the political will of this House. All Canadians want this solved.

Will the Prime Minister do it, and will he do it today?

DarfurOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

The hon. member is right, Mr. Speaker. Canadians are extremely concerned about the situation in Darfur. We are closely monitoring the situation. It is important to us to ensure that relief workers can work in a safe setting.

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, our government believes that a dynamic forest industry contributes to a healthy Canadian economy.

That is why we provided $400 million in budget 2006 to ensure a more stable future for the forest industry. Earlier today, the Minister of Natural Resources announced the forest industry long term competitiveness initiative.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources update the House on how the government is creating the environment necessary for Canada's industry to compete on a global scale?