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House of Commons Hansard #123 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

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

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the Minister of National Defence answered the question and gave parliamentarians enough information to understand the situation.

Like the Minister of National Defence, we responded at the time with the information that was given to us. This has since been clarified. A more fulsome answer has been provided. There are ongoing investigations which will shed further light on this issue.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the opposition has been worried ever since we had the debate on Afghanistan. The opposition parties expressed their concerns regarding the treatment of Afghan prisoners.

How can the Minister of National Defence rise in the House today and not resign when, in fact, he misled us at least ten times, and not just once, with regard to our concerns?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, recently we made an agreement with the Afghan human rights commission. It has undertaken to inform us of any abuse of prisoners within the Afghan system, as well as any abuse on our side.

I have talked to the representative of Kandahar province. I have also talked to the national representative of this organization. I have spoken to the defence minister and the president. They have all agreed that they will meet the requirements of our agreements.

AfghanistanOral Questions

March 19th, 2007 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence told us in this House that everything was going very well and that was not true. He told us that there was an agreement with the Red Cross, and that is not the case. He told us that he knew the location of the prisoners, and that is false.

Does the minister realize that, if he were still in the army, he could be court-martialled for such behaviour?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, our government set is a very important requirement that we ensure that detainees are treated properly in accordance with international law. Our troops, the men and women over there in Afghanistan whom I visited last week, are of the same mind. We treat prisoners properly. We have now engaged the Afghan human rights commission to ensure that they can be monitored through the entire system.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence has misinformed the House and has had to apologize on the role of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Why is he yet again misinforming this House by saying that supporting the Afghan commission's human rights role through necessary financial support will somehow undermine the Afghan commission's objectivity? Is the work of the Afghan human rights commission to go unsupported, and is the work of other countries, like the U.K., the U.S., Denmark and The Netherlands, somehow not to be supported? Is that what the minister is trying to tell us?

AfghanistanOral 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, the Government of Canada supports initiatives in Afghanistan that strive to respect the rights of individuals, particularly the rights of women. The Government of Canada will continue to support such initiatives.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell us whether or not he supports the mandate of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission?

Is he prepared to provide financial support in order for the commission to continue its important work?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 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, what I was going to say before was that the Canadian government has financially supported the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. A million dollars has been contributed to support that work. It is inappropriate obviously for the Department of National Defence to be the source of those funds. It is elsewhere in the government from which the funds have been produced.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Albina Guarnieri Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the defence minister has been entrusted with the duty to protect the sterling record of our military and its reputation for humane treatment of detainees. Last year the minister was not living up to that duty when he relied on the Red Cross to investigate abuse when it had no access to transferred detainees.

Will the minister assure the House that detainees will not be transferred to Afghan authorities unless the necessary resources are in place to monitor their treatment and protect Canada's international reputation?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I met with the representatives of the human rights commission and they assured me that they are capable of following up on prisoners and reporting any possible abuse. At that time from the military I offered logistic support.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Albina Guarnieri Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, detainees have disappeared, yet the minister still offers no guarantee. Today he called the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission another layer of comfort, but yesterday he said he was not going to give it a dime to do its job.

When will the minister sign up to his responsibilities and sign over the necessary resources to safeguard human rights?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 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 think the member missed my earlier response. The Department of National Defence does not feel it is appropriate for it to be funding an organization for reasons of perception of conflict. However, the Government of Canada has funded the Independent Human Rights Commission to the amount of $1 million which will provide, along with support from a number of other countries, a lot of support to ensure that they can do their job as part of our effort to rebuild Afghanistan's government, to rebuild their human rights capacity so that they can live in a brighter future than they had under the Taliban.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend the Minister of the Environment met with his G-8 environment colleagues in Potsdam, Germany.

Could the minister please tell the House how Canada is taking charge in the international community on the global fight against climate change with our international partners?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, Canada is once again taking leadership on the world stage after 13 long years of inaction. People from across the world are actually very cynical of Canada because they talked a good game on reducing greenhouse gas emissions but in fact delivered nothing.

There is a consensus among G8+5 members on the science. There is a consensus on the technology. There is a consensus that we must move forward to ensure that all global economies remain prosperous.

There is also a growing consensus in Canada that the Leader of the Opposition did not get the job done.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government's sell and leaseback scheme for federal buildings across the country is illogical. The scheme is going to hurt hard-working Canadians who pay taxes and who will now be on the hook for these arrangements for years and years to come.

I wonder if the minister thinks that it makes good economic sense to sell his house and lease it back from the new owner for 25 years.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Mr. Speaker, the approach we are using is one that makes fiscal sense. It is used in the private sector all the time. Provincial governments have used this in the past. It is going to give value for taxpayers' dollars.

This approach has been vetted. It has been put forward and examined for years. The Liberals, in fact, put this process forward. It was approved. It made common sense, but of course they bungled it when the time came to implement it.

I can assure the NDP that when it comes to making fiscal sense and putting in place a plan that makes sense financially, the NDP will be the first party that we ignore.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, when will the unelected minister make his plans clear to this elected chamber?

One group that understands that party very well and that stands to do very well from its sell and leaseback scheme is the big banks. It was reported today in the Globe and Mail that this sale could net between $1 million and $5 million for the Bank of Montreal and the Royal Bank.

The government is showing no leadership whatsoever. This scheme makes no sense. It is illogical. Will the minister reverse course and refuse to sell these buildings?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Mr. Speaker, we are going ahead with this process because it makes sense. It will be good value for taxpayers' dollars. It will benefit all Canadians. It will reduce the $4 billion liability in fix-ups on buildings that we currently hold. It makes perfect sense for taxpayers.

We will get value in everything we do. From the Department of Public Works on down, we will get it done. We will go ahead and ignore the NDP which has a record of fiscal mismanagement in every province of this country. As I said in my first answer, we will go ahead and ignore the NDP's advice on fiscal management because we know that every time it has tried, it has failed.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, Britain and The Netherlands have agreements in place that allow them to verify that transferred prisoners receive proper treatment, but Canada does not. When will the defence minister take steps to give Canada the same authority as Britain and The Netherlands?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, Great Britain and The Netherlands use the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission to monitor the activities of detainees in the Afghan system and we will also.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, four prisoners are missing and Canada has no guaranteed system in place to ensure that prisoners are receiving proper treatment.

The government and the defence minister owe Canadians and the House of Commons an explanation about what steps the government has taken to ensure that prisoners are not being mistreated. More particularly, what is the government's plan if there is evidence that prisoners are being tortured?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission has assured us that it will report any abuse of prisoners. It is able to monitor all the prisoners. If it finds abuse, we have asked that it report that abuse to us and we will deal with the Afghan government.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, now that the International Committee of the Red Cross has forced the Minister of National Defence to correct the record and confirm that it has no role in the monitoring of the Canada-Afghanistan detainee transfer agreement, can the minister tell Canadians what immediate steps he is taking to verify that detainees captured by the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan and transferred to Afghan authorities are being properly treated?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we have engaged the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. It will monitor detainees within the Afghan system and it will report to us any abuses.