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House of Commons Hansard #146 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-22.

Topics

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, every day the government engages in frantic improvisation but disturbing new questions arise about the Afghan detainees. Documents obtained by the CBC suggest that there are in fact two separate procedures for handling detainees captured during combat operations.

Could the minister assure the House that every person transferred by the Canadian Forces to the Afghans has been documented by Canadians, is documented by the Red Cross and is receiving full Geneva convention protection?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 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, the protection under the Geneva convention has always been a priority for us, for Canadians and for our troops. The arrangements are in place to ensure that happens.

I think the hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore will find that the arrangements that are in place are all satisfactory and address every concern that he has.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, there appears to be a double standard when it comes to the transfer of detainees captured by Canadian Forces. These detainees are transferred with no documentation of the transfer, without anyone informing the Red Cross and with no guarantee that they will be protected by the Geneva convention.

Can the minister assure this House that the new agreement, which the House is still waiting to see, will put an end to this questionable practice?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 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, as I said, we already have arrangements in place. They are working well and we are satisfied with them. I invite the hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore to read the agreement.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, government counsel reported in court this morning that a new agreement was signed with Afghanistan regarding the transfer of detainees.

Will the government admit that, if a new agreement was signed, it is because the previous one was an utter failure, as it failed to respect the terms and conditions of the Geneva convention and failed to ensure the protection of the prisoners handed over to Afghan authorities?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 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, as I said previously, we have arrangements in place and are satisfied that they are working. An agreement was signed initially in 2005, to which improvements have been made. It works and we are satisfied with that.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it must not have been working that well if they now have a new agreement.

When we suggested that it did not respect the Geneva convention, that they did not have any guarantees from the Afghan authorities, their line was that we were taking the word of the Taliban. The government should realize that we were right. So much so that it had to come up with a new agreement, which will be tabled in the House.

Will the government recognize that what it had before did not work at all?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 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, we have already indicated that we are satisfied with the arrangements in place. I want the leader of the Bloc Québécois to know that the original agreement was entered into by the previous Liberal government.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have learned that the previous agreement only applied to detainees interrogated by Canadian military personnel before being transferred to Afghan authorities and not to detainees transferred in theatres of operation. There is nothing in this new agreement to that effect.

I am asking the Prime Minister whether or not he can guarantee that this new agreement will not make any distinction between detainees and that everyone will be protected under the Geneva convention.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 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, the December 2005 arrangement on detainees remains in place. We have said that we would work with the Afghan government to clarify its responsibilities for the treatment of Taliban prisoners, as we have told the House previously. Working with the Afghan government we have made explicit their responsibilities and we have identified and implemented these improvements to the existing 2005 arrangement, as we said we would do. The arrangement is working satisfactorily.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have seen the agreement. There is nothing in the current agreement that ensures that a distinction will not be made between detainees. A distinction was made in the former agreement. Nothing is set out in the new one.

Does the government intend to treat all prisoners equally, even if the prisoners are transferred to Afghan authorities, and to ensure that they are subject to the Geneva convention? That is the question and I want the minister to reply.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 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, Canada intends to respect the Geneva convention.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, some documents now clearly indicate that the previous government was at the origin of the fiasco in the transfer of detainees. This is now well known. However, the current government cannot use the Liberal government's mistakes to excuse its own performance regarding this issue. Today, we have asked repeatedly in this House whether all the prisoners captured by Canadians will be treated appropriately, under the Geneva convention, but the government official has refused to provide a clear and specific reply.

I am now giving him the opportunity to provide such a reply and to clarify things immediately.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 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, the arrangements that we have in place are those that will allow Canadians to be able to deal with an effective oversight of the issue of Taliban prisoners in conjunction with the Afghan agencies and government. We are satisfied that those arrangements will work. I think we can take great comfort in the arrangements that we have struck.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is pretty hard for us to take comfort in this matter given what we have seen in the last year, which has been denial after denial of the issues that we have been raising here in the House for over a year.

Let me give another reason why we should be concerned and I ask the government to respond. The Prime Minister said he wanted to get to the bottom of this mess. The Minister of National Defence said he would not stand in the way.

Why then is the Attorney General of Canada telling witnesses that they should use the issue of national security to give them an excuse not to answer questions under cross-examination from a judge? Why is he doing it? Why not open the doors and answer these questions?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 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 am not sure if I heard the leader of the NDP correctly, but if I heard him correctly I think he is suggesting that we should disclose in public court public security information that could put soldiers in the field, as well as Canadians and other national interests, at stake. The reason things are matters of national security is that they represent a threat to Canada and to Canadians. I would hope he is not encouraging that those should be disclosed in open court for our enemies to hear.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the evidence is clear: this government is unable to deal with the crisis relating to Afghan detainees. For over a week now, the Conservatives have been unable to determine who is responsible for this situation. If the government does not want to assume its responsibilities, perhaps the courts will do it in its place.

Why do we have to bring issues before the courts to get this government to act?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member mentioned in court, it is clear that our ambassador and my officials in Kabul have succeeded in negotiating and signing an agreement with the Afghan government. That comprehensive agreement completes the December 2005 agreement.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government shows no initiative at all. It is not trying to correct the situation or ensure that transferred detainees are safe and sound. This agreement simply asks Afghan authorities to correct their own mistakes.

How will that agreement end the abuse, once and for all?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, that is, of course, factually incorrect. We have enhanced the 2005 agreement. That is exactly what people were calling for. We have improved upon it. We will table it for all to see. Members opposite want to see it and we will give them the opportunity to see it. We will table it in the House when it has been translated.

This was an improvement upon a previous agreement that was put in place by the previous government. We have improved upon it. We have done what was asked by Canadians. We are going to see that it is implemented by the Afghan government.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, on March 19, I asked the Minister of National Defence about four detainees who had disappeared after the Canadian Forces had transferred them to the Afghan national army.

Now that the CBC has revealed that there is a parallel process, can the minister confirm that these four detainees who disappeared are the reason for this parallel process?

I hope that the Minister of National Defence will answer my question.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, when persons of interest come under the control of the Canadian Forces, they are processed as detainees. If they are transferred to the Afghan authorities, the International Red Cross and human rights organization are advised, or if they are released, they are both advised.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, then perhaps the Minister of National Defence could say whether it is true that there is a parallel process where the Red Cross is not notified.

The problem is pretty clear. No matter what kind of deal the members on that side will try to make, we need a NATO-wide agreement. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and I were in Brussels and we spoke about that kind of issue.

I would like to know if the Minister of Foreign Affairs worked with NATO to find a real solution to ensure that human rights are protected and to put an end to this ongoing embarrassment?

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, I welcome the hon. member back from the trip to NATO. He is in fact correct. We attended a NATO meeting in Oslo just last week and this was discussed.

This issue of detainees was taken very seriously by NATO member countries. There was a discussion and real concern expressed around the table, but what we have done today is very clear.

We have expanded the agreement that was in place signed by the previous government. We have in fact ensured that Canada will get full, unrestricted and private access to any persons transferred by Canadian Forces to Afghan authorities. We are going to continue to work with Afghan authorities to see that they get it right.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

May 3rd, 2007 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, during France's presidential candidates debate, the idea of imposing a carbon tax on products from countries that do not respect the Kyoto protocol was discussed. This tax would be consistent with WTO rules. Quebec accounts for more than 40% of Canadian exports to France.

Does the Minister of the Environment realize that by giving up on the Kyoto protocol in favour of the major oil companies, he risks penalizing all of Canada's exporters, but most of all those in Quebec?