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House of Commons Hansard #140 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was animal.

Topics

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as the member previously said, the first casualty in these kinds of games is the truth, and he is the first casualty.

The military's strategic advisory team in Kabul is a team that advises on how to organize government and how to achieve objectives. It does not get involved in the justice system.

The other suspicion or suggestion the member is making is about cover-ups, and a cover-up means that the military is somehow involved in not identifying abuses. I reject this completely.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the Minister of National Defence had a damning report from the Department of Foreign Affairs that talked about torture, summary executions and arbitrary detentions, the Minister of National Defence continued to spew rhetoric about trusting completely the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. Now we are told that no one saw this report. The Minister of Foreign Affairs did not see it. The Prime Minister did not see it. The Minister of National Defence did not see it. That is a bit much.

If they did not see it, how could they have censored it?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, as has already been stated very clearly, these reports have been done in the same form and fashion. They have been reviewed and redacted in the same way since 2002.

The interesting point to make with all the chatter coming from the members opposite is that when the Liberals were in government they had no policy on detainees until one month before they left office.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence is not the only one who does not know what is going on and who is attempting to mislead this House. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister himself are misleading this House.

Does the minister still have enough of a conscience to realize that by remaining silent, when he had such a report in his hands, he lost the little credibility he had left? The minister knows what a code of honour is. Will he respect his code of honour and immediately tender his resignation?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, these reports clearly state that there are positive and obviously negative areas within the Afghanistan capacity to deal with not only detainees but areas of development and areas of security.

That has been the case since 2002 when this reporting process was put in place. We use those reports, as did the previous government, to determine how we can assist in the building of capacity in Afghanistan. That has not changed.

What will change is that we will be accountable. We will speak directly with Afghan authorities to see that the positive changes that have to take place do in fact occur.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, with today's disclosures we have proof that Canada violated the Geneva convention. The Prime Minister must face the facts: this report was not written by the Taliban but by senior officials at Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs.

Does the Prime Minister intend to announce the only possible solution in these circumstances, which is to immediately stop transferring prisoners to the Afghan authorities?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, what simplistic thinking to suggest somehow that Canada is in violation of international obligations or the Geneva convention. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We are taking action. We are working directly and collaboratively with Afghan authorities to see that this situation is remedied. We will do so based on actual factual information in our possession, not on allegations made by the Taliban and not on allegations made by the Bloc Québécois.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, there are limits. In light of this report, Canada is clearly violating the Geneva convention, not only because there is torture but also because there is the risk of torture.

The Prime Minister has two options: either he defends the indefensible by violating the Geneva convention, or he shows responsibility and some humility by admitting that he was wrong and stops right now the transfer of prisoners.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, first and foremost, the report says no such thing.

I have spoken directly with Afghanistan's ambassador to Canada. I have advised him of our concerns with respect to those sections of the report. I have indicated to him that we expect word back from them as to the facts they have. We indicated quite clearly what we expect, that if any practice such as alleged is taking place, it cease immediately and changes be made to remedy that.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, international law, including the Geneva convention, expressly prohibits the transfer of detainees into situations of torture and inhumane treatment. There is clear evidence of such torture and inhumane treatment. Indeed, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has not only corroborated these allegations but has acknowledged that it cannot monitor, let alone protect, the detainees.

Will the Canadian government abide by its international obligations and cease and desist from these transfers, in the interests also of protecting our own soldiers, of protecting the integrity of our mission and of protecting--

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, obviously it is in everyone's interest that the Afghan government comply with its international obligations, with its own law, and with all obligations as they pertain to human rights. That is exactly what the Canadian government and in fact all NATO allies are attempting to do in working with the Afghan government to build the capacity, both in prisons and with respect to their Afghan national army and policing.

That does not happen overnight. That member, more than anyone, should know that the strides and progress that have been made in Afghanistan are extraordinary.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, international law not only prohibits the transfer of detainees to conditions of torture, but requires that the government take all necessary measures to protect detainees already transferred or to have them returned into our protective custody.

Since it is clear that those already transferred have been tortured and since the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has acknowledged that it cannot protect them, will the government secure their protection, or will it continue to be soft on compliance with international law, soft on detainee protection, and soft on protecting the rights of our own Canadian soldiers?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. The right hon. Prime Minister has the floor. A question has been asked and he has the right to respond.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, members of the Canadian military are in constant communication with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and with their other counterparts in Afghanistan to assure themselves that the allegations the hon. member makes are not the case. We do that at other levels, at the level of corrections, and also at the level of foreign affairs.

Any suggestion that the hon. member or other members have that the Canadian military is deliberately violating the Geneva convention is false and without any foundation.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government claims not to have known about the abuse of detainees, dismissing them as Taliban rumours, but foreign affairs knew, Madam Justice Louise Arbour knew, the Afghan government knew, and Corrections Canada, with officials on the ground, knew. Even the Prime Minister's floor-crossing personal adviser to Afghanistan knew.

How is it that the only people claiming ignorance sit on the Conservative frontbench?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the previous government, the hon. member would know that these reports are routinely returned to officials. These reports are used for the basis of determining what progress needs to be made, what areas are lacking, and how to go about building that capacity. These reports are done to gauge the advancements that are made in human rights and to find the shortcomings and then address them.

We have spoken directly with the Afghan government about this situation. We intend to have a full report back to us.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the defence minister has a history of misleading the House.

The government refuses to ensure international law is respected and it is putting Canada's international reputation at risk. When will the government admit that once again it has misled Canadians on the issue of Afghan detainees? When will the Prime Minister fire his incompetent Minister of National Defence?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, since the beginning of the mission, this government, like the previous government I would expect, has regularly raised concerns about capacity building and human rights issues. We continue to do that.

Reports such as this are used generally to make policy. The specific allegations here are being examined closely. They will be looked into in Afghanistan. They will be gauged for future consideration. This is an attempt by the government to point out its own shortcomings.

When we examine the fact that those members did not have an agreement in place on the transfer of detainees, they are trying to detract from their own shortcomings.

Arts and CultureOral Questions

April 25th, 2007 / 2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, in its last budget, Canada's new government announced that $60 million would be made available over the next two years for events celebrating local arts and heritage.

Could the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women tell us what progress she has made with the implementation of this program?

Arts and CultureOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Durham Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, the program does not yet exist. We announced our intent in the last budget, but it still has to be created. The criteria have not been established. All MPs are invited to provide input. The Conservative caucus received a questionnaire and all members of the opposition parties will receive it in the upcoming days.

The government wants to address the real needs of our communities and we will do it through a fully accountable and transparent process.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government failed the first time, so now it wants to try again with a new plan, but the targets are unacceptable. These targets will result in levels higher than 1990 levels. The lack of leadership is shameful.

Will this government have the courage to submit new targets in a bill and to put those targets to a democratic vote in the House?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, we are excited about our plan and our initiative. For the first time ever, we will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

For years we saw inaction from the Liberal Party and now we hear the line “do as I say, not as I do”.

Canadians want a real plan. They want a real plan to see a better environment. They want a real plan to see a reduction in greenhouse gases. That is exactly what this government is going to deliver.