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House of Commons Hansard #147 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crown.

Topics

Liberal Party CandidatesStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader's desperate search for friends has again ended badly.

First his campaign organizer, Farhan Chak, sympathizes with suicide bombers and accuses Israel of rape and murder. Next, his candidate, Elizabeth May, makes Nazi references to score cheap political points.

Now, star recruit, David Orchard, has again implied that the Liberal leader, as a cabinet minister, was complicit in the commission of war crimes. In a 1999 article, Orchard suggested that Canada committed war crimes in Kosovo. Who was in cabinet during that time? The Liberal leader. Last Sunday in the Halifax Herald, Orchard wrote that Canadian activity in Afghanistan is “a supreme international crime”. Who was in cabinet when that involvement was authorized? The Liberal leader.

With friends like these, the Liberal leader does not need enemies.

Will he do the right thing, stand up for himself, his country and our troops, condemn David Orchard's remarks and kick Mr. Orchard out of the Liberal Party?

HousingStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, Providence Farm completed a housing need and demand study for the Cowichan Valley. The study demonstrates the clear need for consistent long term planning to address the issue of homelessness.

A greater proportion of lone parent families than the rest of the province and a rapidly growing seniors population will strain the available resources for affordable housing. I was astonished to learn that for every 100 people over the age of 65 in the Cowichan Valley in 2001, there will be 230 in 2031.

Median housing prices jumped from $180,000 in 2001 to over $240,000 in 2005. Half of all families in the Cowichan Valley cannot afford to buy a house worth more than $150,000, yet in early 2006 only eight single family houses sold for under this price. The vacancy rate fell from 8.4% in October 2003 to 1.6% in October 2005, indicating growing rental demand.

There are many challenges for housing and homelessness and there are many solutions required.

I want to thank the staff at Providence Farm for their hard work on this very important issue.

Canadian Tulip FestivalStatements By Members

May 4th, 2007 / 11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speak, the sun is shining in the capital, flowers are in bloom and the Canadian Tulip Festival's Tulip Ball this evening at the National Gallery will kick off two weeks of festivities.

This year, the festival is bringing fresh, new ideas to the fore. A celebration of ideas called “Celebridée” will bring together notable guests from across Canada and around the world who will showcase the intellectual vitality of Canada's capital.

The Canadian Tulip Festival will again stand out as one of the highlights of the national capital's social calendar.

As we welcome to our capital visitors from everywhere around the world but mostly from North America, let us wish the festival organizers and sponsors much success, and above all, pleasant weather throughout the entire festival, contrary to the last two, three or four years.

I take this opportunity to congratulate all the organizers and sponsors, and in particular Teri Kirk, festival president, David Luxton, Christine Charette, Pam and Grant Hooker, and the hundreds of volunteers who will ensure its success.

May we all visit the festival.

Yvon LessardStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, Yvon Lessard, of Service Électronique Professionnel in Chicoutimi has discovered a method for measuring ice on Hydro-Québec's power lines and minimizing the effects of frost on towers by working with Équipe Fabconcept in Chicoutimi.

Hydro-Québec hired Mr. Lessard for his electrical genius in order to develop a measuring device that could indicate the weight of power lines in real time when ice accumulates. Measurements can even be taken in the most difficult to access areas in the province.

With the information provided by the electronic reading equipment, Hydro-Québec will be able to activate the heating wires remotely, which will melt the ice and prevent the towers from collapsing.

I would like to congratulate Yvon Lessard for his work with Équipe Fabconcept, which enabled him to innovate and to give a positive boost to the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean area.

Bisphenol AStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be introducing a bill today in this House, calling on the government to ban a very toxic chemical substance used in many food and drink containers.

Bisphenol A is a substance found in many items made of clear, hard plastic, such as water bottles and baby bottles. The effect of this chemical is similar to that of estrogens on the human body. Many studies have shown that it increases the risk of infertility, obesity, breast and prostate cancers, and has many other harmful effects on our health. It is crucial that the government regulate the use of this toxic substance.

Liberal Party CandidatesStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, first Jim Curran, the Liberal nominee in Niagara Falls withdrew his candidacy because he was arrested on fraud charges. Then we learn of Farhan Chak, who has finally resigned his candidacy in Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont.

The real question is why the Liberal leader is so weak that he would not fire Chak outright. We told him about Chak's intemperate views about Israel. We told him about Chak's sympathy toward suicide bombers. We told him about Chak's conspiracy theories about terrorist attacks. It was left to us to tell him about Chak's weapons charges related to a nightclub shooting.

Apparently, Chak did not think it was a big deal. Nor did the Liberal leader because he still did not see fit to fire Chak. It was Chak who realized he was not fit to stand for election.

The Liberal leader should grow a backbone. He would not stand up to Farhan Chak. Will he at least stand up to Elizabeth May and ask her to resign her candidacy in Central Nova?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we now have proof from a colonel in the Canadian Forces that a detainee handed over by Canadian soldiers to Afghan authorities was beaten. We now have the evidence that what the government repeatedly said was false.

Why did it take a Federal Court case to prove that these allegations of abuse are real, rather than baseless Taliban allegations, as the government has so often claimed?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:15 a.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 case the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie speaks of is actually a good story for the Canadian military. It is a case where the military saw some treatment, some roughhousing of an individual, and stepped in immediately to put an end to it. That is how things should work. That shows that things were working well in the field.

The agreement that we have in place now has received very good reviews, no less than The Globe and Mail where it says in the editorial today:

It is a very good agreement, equal to those obtained by the governments of Britain and the Netherlands in most ways, and superior in two significant ways--

I would be happy to go on further.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Federal Court had to intervene to expose this government's cover-up. When informed of the treatment of a prisoner that they had just transferred to the Afghan police, Canadian troops in Kandahar had to ask that the prisoner be returned to them.

Why did the Minister of National Defence and five other ministers of this government rise in the House over a two-week period and tell Canadians that there was not a problem, when we now have proof to the contrary?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, in the case in question, obviously the Canadian Forces were able to take action quickly to ensure that there was nothing improper allowed to continue. In fact, that is exactly what our new agreement ensures will continue to be the case.

I will read from it because I know I invited opposition members to do that yesterday and apparently they are not interested in what we have done. It states:

Representatives of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Government personnel, including representatives of the Canadian Embassy in Kabul and others empowered to represent the Government of Canada will have full and unrestricted access to any persons transferred by the Canadian Forces to Afghan authorities while such persons are in custody. In addition to the International Committee of the Red Cross, relevant human rights institutions with--

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Westmount—Ville-Marie.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, when questioned about this matter, the Prime Minister himself repeated the same story and stated that the abuse was nothing but false allegations made by Taliban prisoners.

Was the Prime Minister informed of his own government's case before the Federal Court? How can this government continue to make false statements when a colonel of our own armed forces has confirmed our initial fears?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:20 a.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 are proud of the conduct of our troops serving in Afghanistan. Their conduct sets a good example.

I will go on to continue to read in French an element from the agreement:

The Afghan authorities will be responsible for treating such individuals in accordance with Afghanistan's international human rights obligations including prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, protection against torture and using only such force as is reasonable to guard against escape.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, Colonel Noonan also swears that soldiers have had to exercise their own discretion and halt transfers of specific detainees when they felt they might be at risk at the hands of Afghan guards.

Will the government halt all transfers until it can guarantee no detainee transferred by Canadians will be beaten or tortured, or will it continue to deceive the Canadian public?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:20 a.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 are very pleased with the arrangement that we have been able to strike. No less than Paul Koring of The Globe and Mail who says this about it:

The new deal transforms Canada into the standard-bearer for all foreign countries in the monitoring of transferred prisoners in Afghanistan.

He goes on to say:

--the deal exceeds the safeguards in other NATO arrangements, including the much-vaunted British and Dutch agreements.

The members of the opposition should for once admit that it was their failure in the past that led to whatever flaws they were unhappy with in the 2005 agreement. There is now an arrangement in place that is satisfactory and we are very pleased with what we have.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, the government knew about the abuse. It knew and yet it did nothing. Worse, the government denied the facts, distorted the truth, and deceived Canadians day after day, week after week. It is appalling and it is shameful.

Canadians deserve some answers. They deserve them from the ministers across the way, not from a Federal Court judge. When did the minister know about the case Colonel Noonan reported?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, Canadians did not do anything. Canadians acted exemplary in the field.

I am amazed to hear the Liberal Party continue on this vein. Fifty-four Canadian soldiers and one Canadian diplomat have lost their lives in the field of battle, fighting a murderous and treacherous regime as part of a UN led mission in Afghanistan. Our brave troops are fighting to bring peace, security and human rights in a war-torn land. We have an excellent agreement in place.

It is time for the opposition to get on side, side with our troops, our good fighting men and women in the field, for once and support the good work they are doing.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite what the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons might think, the new agreement reached yesterday on the monitoring of Afghan detainees does not resolve everything, especially in light of Colonel Steve Noonan's testimony in court this week revealing a documented case of torture. Noonan maintains that the Afghan police had beaten a transferred detainee. The Canadian troops were concerned about the detainee and asked that he be given back.

How could the Prime Minister say that this was nothing more than allegations, when the army had in its possession documented reports confirming that Afghan detainees were being tortured? Does he call that allegations?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:20 a.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 current agreement provides some protection. I will read from the agreement. I invite the opposition to listen:

The Government of Canada will be notified prior to the initiation of proceedings involving persons transferred by the Canadian Forces and prior to the release of the detainee. The Government of Canada will also be notified of any material change of circumstances regarding the detainee including any instance of alleged improper treatment.

That is in the agreement and it is working well.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the case of torture reported by Colonel Noonan was in official Canadian Forces reports.

In light of these revelations, how could members of this government stand up in this House one after the other and say there was no torture in Afghanistan, unless they were knowingly trying to hide the truth from the public?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:20 a.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 do not understand why the hon. member from the Bloc Québécois is not proud of our troops and their behaviour under the circumstances. This is a good example for Canadians.

We now have an agreement with a lot of protection. Here is another excerpt:

Representatives of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), and Canadian government personnel, including representatives of the Canadian Embassy in Kabul and others empowered to represent the Government of Canada will have full and unrestricted access to any persons transferred by the Canadian Forces to Afghan authorities while such persons are in custody.

This is an agreement—

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has repeated that the allegations of torture are nothing more than the claims of a handful of Taliban prisoners and he is accusing the opposition of destroying troop morale by exposing these cases of torture. Colonel Noonan is not a member of the Taliban. He is a former task force commander in Afghanistan and he confirmed that soldiers did their job by regaining custody of a prisoner who had been tortured.

In the Prime Minister's opinion, what destroys troop morale more, questions from the opposition or the concealment of an internal report that confirms the torture of prisoners?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:25 a.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 are proud of the conduct of our troops, as mentioned in the report. Indeed, it is the questions and behaviour of the opposition that is undermining our troops on the battlefield.

I will read what the agreement says regarding allegations of abuse:

In the event that allegations come to the attention of the Government of Afghanistan that a detainee transferred by the Canadian Forces to Afghan authorities has been mistreated, the following corrective action will be undertaken: the Government of Afghanistan—

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.