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House of Commons Hansard #39 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was theft.

Topics

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has already developed new strategies for getting around the problem of transferring Afghan detainees. In some cases, detainees captured by the Canadian army will be held at the base in Kandahar, and in other cases, the Canadian army will let the Afghan army capture the Taliban. The Canadian army has officially stopped transferring detainees to Afghan authorities on suspicion of torture.

Will the Prime Minister admit that by allowing the Afghan army, instead of the Canadian army, to capture the Taliban, the result is the same, in other words, the risk of torture remains and Canada is washing its hands of it?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I cannot comment on the details of this report. I can say that this report states that I had a telephone conversation with General Hillier last week, when in reality, I have not received any telephone calls from General Hillier in the past few weeks.

One must be careful in assuming that these anonymous allegations are true. We are training the Afghan forces to assume responsibility for their country, as the Bloc asked.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, they are not being trained; they are being allowed to do as they please. The Canadian government has suspended the transfer of detainees to Afghan authorities because of a risk of torture, which goes against the Geneva convention. The government said so; it cannot deny it now.

Does the Prime Minister realize that by making the Afghan authorities responsible for the detainees, under the pretext that he is showing them how to handle detainees, he is being complicit and is violating the Geneva convention since there is a risk of torture because of the suspension of official transfers and leaving the authorities unchecked?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, obviously as the Afghan forces assume more and more responsibility in the mission in their country, they are also taking responsibility for various aspects of the mission. That is the opposite of what the leader of the Bloc said.

The Canadian Forces have always respected their international obligations under the agreement we signed with the Government of Afghanistan. We should be congratulating the Canadian Forces for their performance in fulfilling these obligations.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to see the reaction of the Conservative government regarding the transfer of Afghan prisoners. First, they did not know. Then they knew, but they were hiding it. Now, we learn from a government lawyer, apparently acting on his own, that there have been no transfers of prisoners since November 5.

Just like what happened in the United States with Bush's 534 lies about Iraq, is this not a campaign to fool Quebeckers and Canadians about the true fate of Afghan prisoners?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, that is untrue. The government never hid information about the mission in Afghanistan. The Minister of Foreign Affairs provided information to the House of Commons about an allegation against an Afghan prison representative. We provided this information immediately.

It is true to say that the processes and agreements are working. They are working for us, for the protection of the armed forces and for the prisoners.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, can the Minister of Foreign Affairs stand up and tell the House that the Canadian armed forces have never, since transfers stopped, been complicit in letting the Afghans take prisoners who risked being tortured? Can he guarantee that the spirit and the letter of the Geneva convention have been respected at all times and will continue to be respected?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I told the House yesterday, when we uncovered a probable instance of abuse, we informed the House. We took action. My department's officials took action and the Afghan government took action.

In fact, the Afghan government is currently conducting a thorough investigation of this case. We have an agreement that is working, and the armed forces have the discretion to apply this agreement in the field.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians know that the British have 127 detainees, that the Dutch have 59 people that they have captured. We know how many the Americans have. How do we know these things? Because their governments make it public.

What does our government do? It hides the information. The Prime Minister says that it would imperil national security. Is he saying that the British, the Dutch and the Americans are imperilling their national security by releasing information about their detainees to their public? Is that what he is saying?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I guess what it means is that Canada makes its own policies.

These are operational matters of the Canadian military. If the Canadian military choose to reveal that information, that is their decision, but the government certainly is not going to reveal it on their behalf.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an outrage that the government will not come clean and tell the truth about what is going on in Afghanistan when the governments of other countries will do so for their citizens.

For example, we learned that the detainees are being kept on the Kandahar airfield, not from our government but from anonymous news sources through newspapers. It is simply not acceptable.

The Prime Minister said that he supported the Manley report. Is that so? Here is what it says. It wants a communication strategy of open engagement with Canadians.

When can Canadians expect the Prime Minister to start to be truthful about what is going on?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the NDP could do better than rely simply on anonymous sources to ask his question. For instance, these anonymous sources say that I had a telephone conversation on this subject with General Hillier last week. In fact, I have not had any telephone conversation in the last several weeks with General Hillier.

I did talk to General Hillier last week, not about prisoners, but about the Manley report and also to wish him well on the well-deserved vacation with his wife in the Caribbean. He deserves it.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to take a moment to congratulate you--

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Bourassa.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, he seems to be digging himself deeper and deeper into the hole. We now know why we saw a different version last Friday, when his director of communications said she was mistaken.

General Hillier called the Prime Minister because, with good reason, his own Minister of National Defence is not there to protect the troops. Once again, our soldiers have become the scapegoats in this affair. It is time to assume some responsibility and stop blaming others.

First of all, have we had any prisoners since November 5? Second, why did the Prime Minister fail to tell Canadians that his government prefers that our soldiers circumvent the detainee agreement and allow the Afghan national army take care of its own prisoners?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has not changed its position. I have not changed my position.

There is a change, however, when it comes to the position of the member opposite. He now appears to be quite interested in protecting the reputation and well-being of General Hillier, but it was just a short time ago that he said, “I never thought I would see the day when the general and the Canadian army would be a prop for the Government of Canada”. That is what he said.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, from Mr. Scapegoat we deserve better.

Our military men and women put their lives on the line every day for our country but Canadians cannot get the truth from the government. That is the issue.

Yesterday the Prime Minister said the transfer would resume, but he gave no details. Maybe he could tell Canadians, is it now the practice of Canada to sidestep the transfer agreement by allowing the Afghan national army to take prisoners directly and avoid transfers?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, quite simply, no, that is not the practice of the Canadian army. Again, these decisions are made at an operational level within the chain of command in Afghanistan. We, of course, set the policy. The government relies heavily on and supports the decisions made by generals and those in command in Afghanistan.

What we will not do is take lessons on patriotism or military operations from a man who made up his mind about the mission, went to Afghanistan and hung out at Tim Hortons.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. If members want to carry on discussions at Tim Hortons, go ahead. We do not need them in here. We need some order. The member for Kitchener Centre now has the floor. We have moved on.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, leadership requires honesty. Yesterday, the Prime Minister stated that the medium lift helicopters and the unmanned aerial drones were already on order.

If the Prime Minister is telling the truth to Canadians, will he table here in the House today the contracts that the government has already signed to obtain the equipment?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada, the Department of National Defence in conjunction with the Department of Public Works as well as Industry Canada are working at an accelerated pace to secure this important information on unmanned aerial devices as well as Chinook helicopters. We have already well begun the procurement process.

We hope, in keeping with the recommendations of the Manley report, to have that equipment soon. I can assure the House that this process is well under way.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, we know for a fact that neither contract has been signed. We also know that there is no agreement in place to obtain the helicopters' unmanned drones for our soldiers in Afghanistan.

Leadership requires honesty. The Prime Minister is failing Canadians.

Why did the Prime Minister tell Canadians that the helicopters and drones were already on order when he knew this was not true? When will Canadians get the simple truth from the government?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, here is the simple truth. We have budgeted for these items. We have budgeted for UAVs. We have budgeted for the necessary helicopters. As I said, the procurement process is well under way.

Here is the other simple truth. The party opposite when in government starved our military. We saw our military rusting out and caving in. We saw members leaving because of the neglect and the absolute ignoring of their needs by the party opposite when it was in government. That is the simple truth.

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

January 29th, 2008 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Premier of Quebec demanded increased assistance for the manufacturing and forestry sectors. I quote: “—this federal payment should be introduced into Parliament immediately and not be subject to the approval of a federal budget”.

Following his economic statement, the Minister of Finance did not wait until the next budget to try to pass his tax measures. Since there is nothing to stop the government from taking immediate action, especially considering the $11.6 billion surplus expected this year, what is the Minister of Finance waiting for to introduce a bill to immediately implement a better assistance plan, which the manufacturing and forestry sectors so desperately need?

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member asked a question about a community development trust. The government has no reason to delay granting this money.

However, we are currently in the process of signing agreements with the provinces. With those signatures, the conclusion of those agreements and the support—I hope—of all parties of the House, we will be able to move forward.