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House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was troops.

Topics

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine).

Mr. Speaker, in communities across this country methamphetamine, or crystal meth, is becoming an urgent problem. Our children and our communities are at risk.

Unlike other drugs, crystal meth does not need to be imported or grown, but can be synthesized using components that are readily available. Crystal meth is one of the most addictive and damaging of all street drugs and the tragic consequences of the lives that it affects are unacceptable.

The province of Alberta is a desirable haven for meth labs, as are other provinces with high agricultural sectors, since hydrous ammonia is readily available because of its fertilizer component for agricultural communities. Crystal meth is finding its way into rural communities such as my own because of this situation.

This private member's bill would amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to provide the police with more tools to deal with the growing problem of methamphetamines.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Bank ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-429, An Act to amend the Bank Act (automated banking machine charges).

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to introduce this bill that would amend the Bank Act to prohibit ATM fees. The bill would prohibit banks from charging their customers fees for transferring their money or account information through automated banking machines.

Canada's banks currently charge customers these fees for accessing their own money through the bank's own ATMs, other banks' ATMs and privately owned machines. These fees, in our view, are excessive and unnecessary, especially given the huge profits of these institutions, and they are fees that could be easily waived by the banks. This bill would give average Canadians a break on their basic banking charges.

I believe all Canadians would benefit from this change, particularly those on tight budgets. I urge all members to support this initiative.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

April 19th, 2007 / 10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Conservative Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-430, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (child pornography).

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to table a bill to protect our children from the exploitation of child pornography.

Regrettably there has been a proliferation of pornography within our society over the past decades. More regrettable has been the proliferation of child pornography. Child pornography is real, it exists, and its presence in our society has been growing. It is truly a threat to our children and we as a society have tasted its bitter fruit.

Unfortunately, there is a loophole in our Criminal Code that allows child pornography. Paragraph 163.1(6) states:

No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section if the act as alleged to constitute the offence

(a) has a legitimate purpose related to the administration of justice or to science, medicine, education or art;....

Therein lies the loophole: the interpretation of the terms “education” and “art”.

The bill I am tabling today seeks to remove these two terms and, in so doing, better protect our children and our society from the ravages of child pornography. I said that as an MP I would work to defend our families and our children and that is what I am doing by tabling this bill today.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Industry CanadaPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present a petition today from constituents in my area, mainly in the Churchbridge and Langenburg area. The petitioners would like to draw the attention of the House of Commons to the fact that Industry Canada has provided funding for the production of a booklet called “The Little Black Book” that contains pornographically explicit material and that this booklet indoctrinates and solicits children to same sex relationships and may contain incomplete and inaccurate information. The booklet is being used in a provincial education system as a handout to students.

The petitioners therefore call on Parliament to rescind all funding to this project and such related or similar projects and remove all reference to endorsement of such materials by Industry Canada or other departments, review the impact of the Bill C-38 marriage law and its complicit tie to such promotion of same sex material, and take all necessary steps to ensure accountability of tax dollar expenditures on this project in every department.

ImmigrationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present petitions from thousands of ordinary Canadians from across Ontario. The petitioners say that the unification of seniors with their families in Canada through immigration is a core aspect of forming strong, healthy and vibrant families and communities in Canada; that newcomer seniors currently suffer unfairly from the 10 years' residency requirement under Canada's income security programs; and that Canada's old age security, guaranteed income supplement and social assistance programs are age, capacity and needs based benefit programs, not individual contribution based income security plans.

Therefore, the petitioners ask the Government of Canada to amend the Old Age Security Act regulations and policies to eliminate the 10 year residency requirement for old age security and guaranteed income supplement. The petitioners ask that the Government of Canada work with provincial governments to waive the enforcement of sponsorship obligations through government cost recovery schemes as a condition of financial support in situations of genuine immigration sponsorship breakdown involving a senior. Also, they ask that the government establish a nominal public transit charge for all seniors in Canada, similar to the nominal $45 a year charged to seniors in British Columbia. Lastly, they ask that the Government of Canada provide government funding to support more ethno-specific affordable housing for seniors who need or desire it.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Acting Speaker Mr. Royal Galipeau

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

moved:

That,

(1) whereas all Members of this House, whatever their disagreements may be about the mission in Afghanistan, support the courageous men and women of the Canadian Forces;

(2) whereas in May 2006, the government extended Canada's military commitment in Southern Afghanistan to February 2009;

(3) whereas it is incumbent upon Canada to provide adequate notice to the other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) of our intentions beyond that date;

(4) whereas by February 2009, Canada's military mission in Southern Afghanistan will represent one of the largest and longest military commitments in Canadian history; and

(5) whereas Canada's commitment to the reconstruction and security of Afghanistan is not limited to our combat operations in Southern Afghanistan;

this House call upon the government to confirm that Canada’s existing military deployment in Afghanistan will continue until February 2009, at which time Canadian combat operations in Southern Afghanistan will conclude; and call upon the government to notify NATO of this decision immediately.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe that you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That at the conclusion of today's debate on the opposition motion in the name of the hon. member for Bourassa, all questions necessary to dispose of this motion be deemed put, a recorded division deemed requested and deferred to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 24, 2007.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

(Motion agreed to)

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we are here in Parliament, the cradle of democracy, to debate a motion on the future of Canada's mission in Afghanistan that I have tabled in the House on behalf of the official opposition and as Liberal national defence critic. It is important to highlight the motion's first “whereas”.

We are a government in waiting and in a strong position. Given that we were responsible for initiating this mission, we can speak with credibility about it. In no way is anyone on either side of this House calling into question the exceptional work of our courageous men and women. Unfortunately, we have now lost 54 soldiers. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. We must salute the courage of all of our troops.

I will be leading off the debate today, and I have the honour of sharing my time with the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville.

I have to explain the context of this motion. As I said, we initiated this mission—first in Kabul and then in Kandahar—and we are the only party that is in a position to take power after the next election. We would like to believe what the Prime Minister told us. He said that Parliament should consider what the future of this mission is to be after February 2009. The problem is that we do not believe this government and that we have an extremely weak Minister of National Defence who screws up on a daily basis. People who watch the news on television get the impression that he changes his mind as fast as he changes his shirt. In light of those contradictions, I think that our troops, their families and all Canadians have the right to know what is going on.

Our party is giving its unconditional support to this mission until February 2009. We know that our men and women are doing outstanding work. However, we think that greater emphasis should be put on development, that we have a diplomatic role to play and that if we take a piecemeal approach, as the government is doing, the mission is doomed to failure.

Originally, in the context of mission we took on, we wanted to take what is known as the 3D approach: development, diplomacy and defence. That would have helped us.

However, it is important that Canadians know what to expect, that they understand that this is an international mission and that we are working very closely with the NATO forces. Backed by a Security Council resolution, we decided to participate, in order to help the Afghan people see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is important. However, we do not believe this government. We are extremely concerned about how this government is behaving with respect to the mission in Afghanistan. Hiram Johnson, Governor of California in the early 20th century, had something interesting to say on this. He said:

“The first casualty when war comes is the truth”. We are bothered with the way the government is acting right now, the way that it is promoting the mission itself and the way it is making all those big announcements to buy equipment. It is buying equipment and spending billions of dollars for equipment that we are supposed to need for the mission. However, when we realize what is going on through the delivery date, the equipment will only be ready after February 2009. If we are supporting a mission and we want to provide that equipment, why do we bother to spend billions of dollars without any white paper, without any plan?

We are saying that because we are going to Afghanistan, we need tanks, helicopters and some other equipment but when we look at the delivery date, it seems the helicopters will be ready in 2010. It seems that those tanks, besides the ones that we are leasing, will be ready by the end of 2008.

We believe the mission is important and we believe our men and women should have the equipment they need. As a matter of fact, even General Hillier at that time, when we put forward that mission, was pretty clear. He said, “We have the best equipment and the government in place is providing us with what we need”. That was the Liberal government at that time. Therefore, we will need to find some other reason why we want to spend all that money on equipment.

We were announcing, as members will remember, in the restructuring plan to provide more equipment for the troops but we were doing it in a way where the process was a bit more transparent. We did not have a minister of national defence who was a former arms dealer. We did not have a minister of national defence who was a lobbyist promoting that equipment and who was in charge of the requirement to have that equipment for the troops.

Justice must be seen to be done. There can be no conflict of interest, or apparent conflict of interest.

The current problem is that the Minister of National Defence is so ineffectual that even the press is beginning to wonder how long he will remain the Minister of National Defence.

All the while, there is a mission going on in Afghanistan. Men and women are fighting for democracy, to free and support the Afghan people. However, we do not know exactly where we stand. Every time we turn on the television, listen to the radio or read the newspaper, we are given the impression that we could stay in Afghanistan for another 10 or 15 years. It also seems that, on any given day, we are told one thing one moment, and the exact opposite a moment later.

What we need in this file is clarity. We need a responsible government to send clear messages to international institutions. The Liberal Party of Canada supports a multilateral approach. Unlike the Prime Minister, who would have liked to see Canadians in Iraq, we decided to go to Afghanistan because of a Security Council resolution.

We worked with our NATO allies and took a multilateral approach. It was the international communities as a whole that decided that we had to settle the situation in Afghanistan. It corresponded to important Canadian values. In light of that, obviously it was essential to take part in the war. And we went ahead. Remember that our colleague—the former acting leader, member for Toronto, Minister of Defence and exceptional Minster of Foreign Affairs—made announcements at the time.

Other colleagues of ours also worked towards this end. It was always extremely respectful. We had the advantage of being clear; we gave a cut-off date. We said that it was not a Canadian mission, but that we would take part in it.

There are so many contradictions. The current Minister of National Defence is a burden, because of his gaffes. He now says that we will need tanks. Not only does that add to the lack of clarity, but puts us on an extremely slippery field.

As for using tanks against guerilla warfare, most of the experts say that not only does it lead to stalemates and to escalation of the violence, but it is not necessary. Even the German army exchanged the caterpillar tracks on its tanks for wheels because it knows that, in order to protect the troops and play a development role, you do not arrive in villages with tanks, saying, “Welcome, I’m here, we love you”. We knew that the LAV3s we had at the time, the armoured vehicles, were enough to protect our troops. We have to wonder: What do they want tanks for?

I know that my speaking time is limited, but it is important to mention that the goal of this mission is important. Although essential, this mission should also have a cut-off date. We will still be there as far as development and diplomacy are concerned. We can also play an advisory role, as we have always done. It is important to say that we do not want to end up in a situation like Bush in Iraq.

As far as tanks are concerned, General Hillier himself said:

“It was an albatross around our army's neck. Now that we are spending almost a billion dollars for those tanks, it is unnecessary”.

Next week, I will be in Brussels. I will be accompanying the Minister of Foreign Affairs to a NATO forum. We will be talking about all these issues. However, I hope that the House will make the decision that reflects the wishes of the Canadian people, that is, to support the mission but to put an end to in it February 2009. I ask the House to vote in favour of this motion.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will disregard the personal and insulting comments about our excellent Minister of National Defence.

I would like to comment on a couple of things my hon. colleague said. There are so many things that it is hard to know where to start in terms of what was misinformation, what was misguided or what was simply irresponsible and unconscionable. I am sure as the day goes along we will probably elevate the level to things of that nature but for now I would like to point out a couple of inconsistencies.

When my hon. colleague talks about equipment for the mission, he is talking about C-17s, C-130Js, Chinook helicopters and so on. They are not just equipment for the mission in Afghanistan. They are equipment that Canada, Canadians and the people who rely on us around the world have been deprived of because of decades of Liberal neglect of the military.

All of the equipment for the floods in Manitoba, for the ice storms in Quebec and Ontario and for DART have been moved by U.S. Air Force C-17s or rented Russian airplanes. That is not the way a sovereign nation, which looks after its own people and its responsibilities abroad, handles its military affairs.

Does my hon. colleague see a use for C-17s, C-130Js and Chinooks beyond the mission in Afghanistan, or is he so blinded by the political games the Liberals are playing that he is not looking beyond 2009?

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that I did not say that every time an announcement is made it says that we need the equipment for the mission.

If the member wants to talk about sovereignty, why is the government spending $3.4 billion and delivering a blank cheque to Boeing when the Canadian industry has no benefit from it? Instead of spending $3.4 billion on the C-17s, they can be rented for $42 million per year. I just completed my M.B.A. and when I look at the balance sheet, I believe that is a better move.

As for the Chinooks, the member knows why the money was spent on the Chinooks. Because of the climate in Afghanistan, those helicopters are needed. The Liberals believe in helicopters and we have said that since the beginning. If the House remembers, the member for LaSalle—Émard, the former prime minister, was putting together a plan for that purpose.

However, if the government's policy is to spend the money in the way that it is being spent without any bids and using it for things like the tanks for the mission and then sending tanks to Darfur, then I want to see its white paper because I think the government is being irresponsible.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, since 2005, under the former Liberal government, Canadians have been fighting a growing insurgency in south Afghanistan. However, since then, OPM poppy production reached a record high last year, surpassing 2005's total of 49%.

In the first nine months of 2006, 3,700 people were killed in the conflict, already a fourfold increase over the year before, and there were 139 suicide attacks in 2006, up from 27 in 2005.

In five years, Afghanistan is still one of the world's poorest countries. One in four Afghan children do not live to the age of five and 70% of the Afghan population is malnourished.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a great deal of difficulty accepting the NDP's position because its solution is to abort the mission. What kind of credibility does it have?

It is possible to dislike how the mission is unfolding, but we believe that it is necessary. Stability and instruments of security are needed if we want to establish an environment conducive to development and one that will counter poverty and contribute to tackling the hellish drug problem. That is why the military operation is necessary.

However, we do not wish to do it piecemeal, as proposed by the government. We have the feeling that, from the beginning, the focus was on military operations because the military aspect is seven times greater than the development component.

A military operation is necessary if we wish to have development, diplomacy and geopolitical stability. The NDP does not have any credibility. It believes that we should pull the plug on the mission immediately.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I want to join the hon. member for Bourassa and say that on behalf of the official opposition and the Liberal caucus--

I want to offer my sincere condolences to the family, friends and comrades of the soldier who died yesterday in Afghanistan.

I rise today on behalf of every Canadian to demand clarity and accountability from the Prime Minister and his Minister of National Defence.

Our soldiers in Afghanistan are performing a difficult mission under the most dangerous circumstances. Today we need to say that they honour our nation with their courage and I know I speak for every member in this House when I say that they have our full and unwavering support.

However, events in Afghanistan bring into focus another point, one which brings great concern to this House. We need to think about what is happening regarding the clarity of the government. Will the government level with the Canadian people about how long it plans to keep our combat forces in Kandahar?

A Liberal government will end Canada's combat role in Kandahar in February 2009 and we will immediately inform NATO of our position. We have not received such clarity from the Conservative government. Instead, we have heard only conflicting stories and ambiguities.

A Liberal government will end Canada's combat role in Kandahar in February 2009 and we will immediately inform NATO of our position.

We have not received such clarity from the Conservative government. Instead we have heard only conflicting stories and ambiguities. In February we learned that the Canadian Forces are preparing to extend their combat mission in Kandahar until at least 2011. A little later, the Minister of National Defence said that Canada would remain in Afghanistan until the progress in Afghanistan becomes irreversible. Later he said that Canada could withdraw in 2010, but only if certain conditions are met. These conditions oddly remind us of those President George W. Bush would impose before ending the war in Iraq, a war that our current Prime Minister would have liked to drag Canada into.

The Prime Minister refuses to accept that Canadians do not want an never-ending war. Under the current government, that is what the campaign in Afghanistan seems like. Now we learn that cabinet has not even discussed this issue and that it does not intend to do so before next year, at the earliest. As the hon. member for Bourassa said, the arms ordered by the Minister of National Defence for the Kandahar mission will not even be available before February 2009.

There are too many different answers to the same critical question: What is the government's plan for Canada's forces in Afghanistan? Canadians deserve a clear answer to this question.

Canadians expect our mission in Kandahar to end in February 2009, but this government has been deliberately ambiguous on this point. We owe Canadians, as well as our allies, clarity.

As long as our NATO allies believe Canada's commitment in Kandahar to be open-ended, they will never prepare for our departure.

By February 2009, Canada will have met its obligations to NATO in southern Afghanistan. We will have served the people of that country for seven years. We will have served them in a full combat role for three years, in the most dangerous part of the country. By then, it will have been one of the longest military combat roles we have ever played.

Unless the Government of Canada makes clear now to our allies our plans in Afghanistan, Canada will be put in an untenable situation by the end of our current mandate in February 2009.

The government must tell our allies now to begin planning for the assumption of this role in southern Afghanistan. We owe it to our soldiers to begin planning now for passing control and execution of this mission to others.

The Conservative government, by refusing to be clear about its military plans for Afghanistan, is taking our attention away from the larger debate: how we can succeed in bringing some measures of peace to that country.

Success in Afghanistan cannot be achieved by military means alone. The basic goal for Canada in Kandahar should be to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. We certainly do not win hearts and minds by telling the Afghans that we are in their country for reasons of retribution, as the defence minister recently stated.

For this House to be in the best position to debate how to play out the rest of the mission in Kandahar, we need clarity from the Prime Minister on when that mission will end.

I commit to the House today that a Liberal government will not extend Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan beyond February 2009. A Liberal government will immediately inform Canada's NATO allies of this decision.

For this House to be in the best position to debate how to play out the rest of the mission in Kandahar, we need to have all the information.

And for that we need clarity from the Prime Minister on when the mission will end.

I commit to the House today that a Liberal government will not extend Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan beyond February 2009.

A Liberal government will immediately inform Canada's NATO allies of this decision.

For the good of Afghanistan and for the good of Canada's troops, I call on the Prime Minister to match this commitment by supporting today's motion. I call on him to make clear to this House and to our allies that Canada will not continue its combat role in Afghanistan after the end of our current mission in February 2009.

For the good of Afghanistan and for the good of Canada's troops, I call on the Prime Minister to show the same commitment by supporting today's motion.

I call on him to make clear to this House and to our allies that Canada will not continue its combat role in Afghanistan beyond February 2009, as planned.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed and troubled by what I have heard and the motion tabled by the member for Bourassa.

I am disappointed to see the Liberals siding with the terrorists and the Taliban. I am disappointed to see them taking this untimely and irresponsible position. I am disappointed in the Liberals' lack of clarity. Our position on this matter is clear: we support the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

I am disappointed when the Leader of the Opposition says one thing and then does the exact opposite. A definite commitment is needed by Afghanistan, by NATO, by the United Nations and by the Canadian people to ensure its own security.

What about the credibility of those presenting this motion? What were they doing last summer under the Hezbollah flag with a machine gun? What is this proposal and how credible is it? I went to Afghanistan—

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Bourassa on a point of order.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the member for Lévis—Bellechasse wants to hold on to what little credibility he has, he should certainly not be questioning the integrity of the members of this House. No one is supporting the terrorists. Let us have a serious debate. If he wants to make personal attacks, he should know that we can do so too, it is not hard. It is easy to start, and we can be done with it.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to enforce a higher level of debate. I will not accept personal attacks being made on me.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

I thank the hon. member for Bourassa for his comments.

I would like to ask all members to be judicious in their comments.

I would also like to congratulate all members of the House who were attentive when the hon. member for Bourassa spoke and when the hon. Leader of the Opposition spoke. I would also appreciate that the same attention be given when other members of the House speak.

The hon. member for Lévis—Bellechasse should immediately get to his question, since there are only 20 seconds remaining.