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House of Commons Hansard #42 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was energy.

Topics

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Gilbert Lavoie, one of Brian Mulroney's former chiefs of staff, said that when people got a call summoning them to the Prime Minister's Office, they got a move on for one simple reason: the Prime Minister was interested in a specific file.

Having allowed his secretary, Dimitri Soudas, to meet with the unelected Minister of Public Works'—Michael Fortier's—chief of staff, in his offices in the Langevin block, can the Prime Minister deny that the request was, by definition, political interference?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral 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, I would like to quote the former Liberal minister, Jean Lapierre, who said, “quite honestly, after hearing the Radio-Canada report and reading the article in La Presse, I do not see either a smoking gun or a scandal. In my political experience, dating back to 1974, any citizen can make a request to the Prime Minister's Office, which may then forward it to the ministers involved”.

There is no problem. No favours were handed out.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the legal conflict pitting his department against the Irving family, the unelected Minister of Public Works refused to listen to the grievance of a member of Parliament who wanted to discuss a case that is before the courts. However, in the Rosdev case, a matter that is also before the courts, Public Works ran straight to the Prime Minister's Office. Two similar cases, two different ways of dealing with them. Does that not qualify as political interference?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral 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, those are two cases that are entirely similar. No favours were handed out. No political favours were dispensed. No changes were made. No political pressure was applied.

It is actually outstanding conduct, conduct very different from what we used to see under the previous government.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Dawn Black NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the war in Afghanistan, the Conservative culture of secrecy has no limit.

Today, the Globe and Mail is reporting that the governor of Kandahar is involved in torture. The government reported this to the Red Cross but there is no indication these allegations have been investigated, as is required by the detainee transfer agreement.

The Conservatives failed to tell Parliament. They suppressed this information in federal court. Why did the Conservatives not tell Canadians about these cases? Why do they continue to hide the truth from Canadians?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out an important matter. First, the allegation with respect to the governor is not a Canadian transferred prisoner.

Second, with respect to the governor of Kandahar, we must not forget that this is an individual appointed by the sovereign elected government of Afghanistan.

We will continue to abide by the agreement that we signed and improved upon, the flawed one of the previous government. This agreement is in place to do exactly what we have always done, which is to stand up for human rights and ensure that prisoners who are transferred are treated properly.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Dawn Black NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government knew Asadullah Khalid was personally accused of torture and abuse of detainees. The government has kept this secret for nine months.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of National Defence are defendants in federal court over these manipulative actions.

Justice Mactavish said that transfers should not resume until a judgment is made.

Will the government commit today not to restart that transfer of detainees? Will the government respect Canada's courts?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, we always support our international agreements. We support the courts. We support the Geneva Convention. That is exactly the reputation that Canadians have always enjoyed.

However, what we will not do is follow the advice of the members of the opposition, the members opposite, who want certain operational details disclosed. They want information that might be of use to the Taliban, operational matters.

As General Hillier has said and as other Canadians working in the field know full well, operating in an area the size of Ottawa with a set group of individuals, certain information can help the Taliban. We will not do that.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government's explanations about the backroom wheeling and dealing by the Prime Minister's press secretary raise more questions than they answer. The government explained that the city counsellor who allegedly brought the Rosdev file to Dimitri Soudas' attention was Paolo Tamburello. However, Mr. Soudas intervened in this matter in August 2006, whereas Mr. Tamburello was no longer a counsellor as of 2005.

Who approached Mr. Soudas and when?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

11:30 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 his statement, the city counsellor said the same thing as this government: there was no political pressure or favouritism.

Nothing wrong has been done. However, the outrageous kinds of accusations that we have had from the Liberal Party on this issue are wrong. They are so outrageous that yesterday their own leader had to retract and apologize for his outrageous accusations in this case.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are saying anything they can to distance themselves from the Rosdev affair. Former counsellor Tamburello, potential Conservative candidate Marcel Tremblay and party fundraiser Leo Housakos have all been named.

Which one of them will agree to take the rap for Mr. Soudas? Who approached the Prime Minister's Office on Rosdev's behalf, and under what circumstances?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

11:30 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 circumstances are not the same as they were, for example, in the case of the Liberal member for West Nova, who, as minister responsible for ACOA, gave a grant to a harbour for which his brother-in-law has a monopoly, or the member for LaSalle—Émard, who introduced legislative amendments and tabled a bill that benefited CSL, despite his own leader's concerns. That was a rather divisive decision.

That is the Liberal record: a record of scandals. This is completely different.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, the government's excuses over the Soudas affair are weak, are unravelling in a heap and are resting squarely at the Prime Minister's feet.

It is clear that Mr. Soudas tried to exert pressure over Public Works officials. They were being lobbied to rethink the government's position by Rosdev's lawyer, a Conservative Party bagman and one of the Prime Minister's senior staff.

If this was not influence peddling, how else were they to interpret being called to the PMO? Was it for tea?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

11:30 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, apparently my friend thinks the Prime Minister's Office should have nothing to do with running the government or asking questions about the government.

What is of interest to Canadians is that no special political favours were handed out in this case. None. That is what Liberals think is scandalous.

God forbid that becomes the practice because when the Liberals are in office they will have nothing to offer their supporters. It will not be business the way it always was under the Liberal Party. There will be no reason for the Liberal Party to even exist.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Soudas meddling could end up compromising the government's position in a multi-million dollar lawsuit. None of the people involved were registered to lobby. It is a clear violation of the law.

When will the government stop serving up nonsense and demand some real accountability from the Prime Minister's own staff?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

11:30 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 have had full accountability and nothing untoward occurred. No favours were handed out.

When we talk about concerns, I look at this entire affair. Only one person has had to apologize under this entire sad episode, this invented scandal by the Liberal Party. Only one person has had to retract what he did. Only one person has had to back off.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Who?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

The leader of the Liberal Party.

AfghanistanOral Questions

February 1st, 2008 / 11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government denies that there have been cases of torture in Afghanistan. Yet it has heavily censored the documents provided in accordance with the Access to Information Act, thereby protecting the torturers.

How can the government have denied for one year that there have been cases of torture when, at the same time, it censored proof of the activities of the governor of Kandahar province, who is suspected of having tortured prisoners?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I should not have to remind the member opposite that it was the Government of Canada and the Minister of Foreign Affairs who revealed here on the floor of the House the fact that we had uncovered a credible allegation of mistreatment. That happened and that is undeniable.

Let us retrace what has been going on here. We put in place a new agreement. It leads to the ability to discover any improper treatment. That works. We discovered that. We suspended transfers. We revealed on the floor of the House of Commons what happened. We have done everything in line with our commitments to protect individuals and to support the Canadian Forces.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has been questioned many times about possible cases of torture and has always denied the allegations, stating that it was Taliban propaganda.

How could the government deny that the torture took place when it had documents proving that the torture was carried out by those in the highest political circles, namely the very governor of Kandahar province?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

An hon. member

It is outrageous.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I know the member opposite has a different view of sovereignty than I do but we are not going to tell the government of Afghanistan who it can put in place as its officials. We will, however, as we have always done, raise our concerns at the highest levels, which is what I did in November.

I spoke to the governor and I told him of our concerns. I said that there had to be action, that there had to be an investigation and that there had to be changes. I said the same thing, within 24 hours, to the President of Afghanistan and my counterpart, General Wardak, and that will continue.

We have regular contact with not only our own officials, but we raise concerns regularly with members of the Afghanistan government.

Forestry and Manufacturing IndustriesOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the list of jobs lost in Quebec is getting longer: 270 jobs lost in Lebel-sur-Quévillon; 115 jobs lost in Maniwaki, in the riding of the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, and 55 jobs lost in Saint-Hilarion.

When AbitibiBowater announced yesterday that another 400 workers would be laid off because of the crisis, the CSN called on the government to take immediate action and abandon its partisan interests. The Prime Minister must table a bill immediately to improve the Conservative's aid package, which is being criticized all across Quebec.

Does the Prime Minister not realize he must take immediate action?

Forestry and Manufacturing IndustriesOral Questions

11:35 a.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, indeed the forestry sector is undergoing major restructuring. We all know why. If we take the U.S. economy for example, usually some 2 million homes are built every year. That figure has now dropped to 600,000.

What is the government doing about this? First, we have reduced the GST. Second, we have reduced personal and business income taxes. Furthermore, we have granted an accelerated capital cost allowance and, finally, we have just announced $1 billion community development trust.