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House of Commons Hansard #148 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senators.

Topics

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 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, again the Leader of the Opposition has his facts wrong.

The facts are, as Colonel Noonan's affidavit indicates, that this is not an issue of a detainee who was transferred to Afghan authorities. It is an issue that happened out in the field, that Canadians observed and then intervened.

Perhaps this is the reason the Canadian public has so much confidence in the Leader of the Opposition that they delivered the lowest total ever in contributions, 10% of what the government did in its first quarter, the lowest total ever in Canadian history for Liberal contributions since reporting started. That is a pretty good accomplishment. It must be in his questions.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the issue is this. Do we have one process to transfer detainees, or two? Do we have coverage for all detainees or not? These are the questions. Are all Afghans handed over to the Afghans covered by the new agreement? Do they all receive 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, on Friday I read considerable excerpts from the agreement that covered that and indeed answered those questions in the affirmative.

Apparently the deputy leader for the Liberal Party is following in the steps of his leader in failing to read the agreement, but somebody else read it, somebody named Michael Byers, who is not traditionally a fan of the government. He said that the enhanced agreement is now better than the Dutch-Afghan agreement, in fact, it is first-rate. If he is satisfied, I would hope they would finally be satisfied.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the new agreement delegates investigations into allegations of abuse by the Afghan authorities to the Afghan authorities themselves. This is not acceptable.

Why is the Prime Minister shirking his responsibilities? Why does he refuse to devote the necessary resources to ensure that Afghan prisons respect the provisions of 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, according to what is being said, this is a very good agreement. For example, in an article in the Globe and Mail, Paul Koring said, “The new deal transforms Canada into the standard-bearer for all foreign countries in the monitoring of transferred prisoners in Afghanistan”.

We are proud of this agreement.

Saint-Hubert AirportOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, 300 jobs are at risk because the government refuses to invest $70 million in the Saint-Hubert airport in order to enable Pratt & Whitney to carry out flight tests.

The ministers responsible are passing the ball back and forth and alleging that the airport project does not meet the criteria for government programs.

Does the government realize that 300 jobs are at risk because the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and his colleague the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, for bureaucratic reasons, refuse to provide the $70 million necessary to upgrade the Saint-Hubert airport?

Saint-Hubert AirportOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, first of all, allow me to state that, today, the Prime Minister of the Government of Canada telephoned the new President of France to pay his respects and to congratulate him. They spoke cordially and amicably. It is definitely not the tone adopted in the sovereignist movement by the leader of the Bloc Québécois and the leader of the PQ.

Saint-Hubert AirportOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we can see that the minister is very worried about the problems of the employees of Pratt & Whitney in Saint-Hubert.

The Minister of Public Works and Government Services gave Pratt & Whitney $350 million to subsidize the development of new engines. If the government refuses to provide $70 million to the Saint-Hubert airport, Pratt & Whitney will move its international engine testing operations to Plattsburgh in the United States.

Does the government realize that it is forcing Pratt & Whitney to carry out its testing in the United States with the money of Quebec and Canadian taxpayers who subsidized the development of Pratt & Whitney engines?

Saint-Hubert AirportOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I would like to reiterate the fact that the Saint-Hubert airport and Pratt & Whitney are asking for $70 million out of a total budget of $200 million.

Given the large amounts involved, the Economic Development Agency of Canada cannot give on the spot approval to this type of project. This matter will not be settled in the media but rather around the table. The representatives of the Economic Development Agency of Canada, Pratt & Whitney and the Saint-Hubert airport are working to find alternatives and solutions.

Saint-Hubert AirportOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the federal budget totals more than $230 billion, yet the government cannot find $70 million to upgrade the Saint-Hubert airport.

The Minister of Transport is passing the buck to his colleague, the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, who is saying he does not have any money. In addition, the Minister of Public Works is promising to talk about the issue. With whom? We do not know.

Does the Prime Minister realize that while the government is talking with whomever, 300 jobs are on the line and economic spinoffs worth $2 billion over 20 years could take off for Plattsburgh?

Saint-Hubert AirportOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should know that Ottawa is not someplace where you ask for something and get it right away. Issues have to be analyzed. Of course, there are always budget constraints. I would remind officials at the Saint-Hubert airport and Pratt & Whitney that the newspapers do not hold the solutions to their problems. They need to sit down and dig deep. The government paid out $350 million last December. They need to reach into their own pockets so that we can find solutions together.

Saint-Hubert AirportOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec stated that Pratt & Whitney had already received $350 million to develop new engines, but that his department did not have $70 million to repair the runway at the Saint-Hubert airport so that those engines could be tested.

Does the minister realize that by refusing to pay the $70 million, he is accepting that the $350 million already paid out is funding jobs that will take off for the United States?

Saint-Hubert AirportOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind hon. members once again that the budget envelope for regional economic development is $200 million for the 14 regions in Quebec. Our friends opposite should tell us which regions' budgets they want us to take away, because we would have to take away five regions' entire budget to fund this project.

As far as I know, the Bloc Québécois members are not going to be the ones who resolve this issue. I am asking officials from Pratt & Whitney and Aéroports de Montréal to sit down with our senior officials and identify solutions. The figure quoted for phase one is $9.5 million and for phase two it is $60 million. We need to sit down.

There is also a department responsible for infrastructure, which might be able to help us.

Ministerial ExpensesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the mystery of the Conservatives' apparent thrift has been solved. The ministers' seeming frugality is a trick. The NDP recently learned that the Minister of Labour spent over $150,000 on flights in private jets. These expenses were never publicly disclosed. These expenses were hidden from the public.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Are any other ministers hiding expenses from the public?

Ministerial ExpensesOral 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, that is not true. All of the Minister of Labour's expenses have been made available on websites. The fact is that the Conservative Minister of Labour's expenses in 2006 were lower than those of his Liberal counterparts in 2005.

Ministerial ExpensesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, is the measuring stick that the Conservative government is using how the former Liberal government behaved itself? It is unbelievable.

The Conservatives campaigned on accountability but they are governing like the Liberals. They are even using their measuring stick. They skirted the rules on convention fees as donations. There is the cheque cashing fiasco of the Minister of Canadian Heritage. They have made appointments to friends, issued contracts to buddies, and now their travelling expenses are hidden. It is unacceptable.

Will the Prime Minister commit to tabling all of the receipts in public so the public can have a look?

Ministerial ExpensesOral 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, as I said, all the expenses are published on the Internet. I invite the member to look a little closer and he might find them.

Certainly, as a measuring stick we would not want to use the leader of the NDP when he was on council in the city of Toronto. I have an article from the Toronto Star. In 2000 when he was on council in Toronto representing a downtown ward right by city hall, he managed to use the council's chauffeur driven limousine 194 times in one year. We thought he was always bicycling to work, but apparently not.

AfghanistanOral Questions

May 7th, 2007 / 2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Liberal Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the chaos, the confusion--

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. The hon. member for Brampton—Springdale has the floor.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Liberal Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the chaos, the confusion and the cover-ups continue. The only way Canadians can get honest answers is through affidavits filed in Federal Court.

At first, there was no report and then there was a report. Then the report showed up all blacked out and now Ms. Colleen Swords, an employee of Foreign Affairs Canada, testified that she has seen a written report prepared by the Correctional Service of Canada related to the abuse of detainees.

Will the Minister of Public Safety table this report in the House? Canadians want to know the truth.

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, let us be very frank about what is happening here. The only confusion, the only misstatement of fact, the only deliberate attempt to distort what is going on here is coming from the opposition benches.

Let me read clearly from an affidavit filed by the vice-chief of the defence staff. He said, “Nothing in the circumstances described can lead to a conclusion that the individual was tortured and that CF members were aware of such torture”.

If members in the field were not aware of any allegations of torture or actual torture, how would any member of the government be aware?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Liberal Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government would not be aware because it is confused. It has been a week of chaos. It has been a week of confusion. It has been a week of cover-ups. Canadians really want to know the truth.

On Friday the foreign affairs minister told the House that there were more than two cases of alleged detainee abuse. Exactly how many cases of prisoner abuse is the Minister of Foreign Affairs aware of? How many written reports have been prepared? When are those reports going to be made public? Canadians want to know.

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 repeat again, what we have done is clean up the mess left in place by the previous government. We have now an enhanced agreement that allows for unfettered access. It allows for private access. It improves the relationship between the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. It improves access available by the Red Cross.

What we have done is improve the situation to do our very best to ensure that the Afghan government has the capacity and the ability to do its utmost to protect detainees.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Afghan detainee transfer scandal has showcased the Conservative government's propensity for screwing up and covering up. The muzzled Minister of National Defence's deliberate confusion and lack of transparency are becoming more and more troubling.

I do not know whether the Prime Minister will let him speak today, but we would like to know why his vice-chief of the defence staff intervened this weekend. Was Colonel Noonan, who was on the ground, too transparent and too honest?

Who in his office is keeping such a close watch over this file as to prompt this weekend's updates?