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House of Commons Hansard #49 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senators.

Topics

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. At the moment we have not fixed the deadline to that. I can report, however, that our government, at all levels, continues to talk to our NATO partners. I think our NATO partners not only take our requests very seriously, but take very seriously the consequences for the mission if NATO does not become more fully engaged and more effective in the mission.

We have had good response to our discussions with allies so far, and at the moment it is our intention to continue that dialogue.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has finally started to look for troops abroad, as he said, but so far he has not received any commitments from our allies. This cannot go on. Canadians need to know who will help us in Afghanistan and when they will do so.

Will the Prime Minister set a deadline for these negotiations with our NATO partners?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, just setting deadlines is not always the best strategy for getting something. We have had good discussions so far with our NATO partners and allies and these discussions are ongoing. We are optimistic about getting the troops and equipment we have requested.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we now know when the next budget will be brought down. In this prebudget period and this time of economic uncertainty, it is especially important to know how the Prime Minister plans to use the surplus. With a $10.6 billion surplus for 2007-08, the Prime Minister has ample resources to respond to our demands. The $10.6 billion figure comes from the Minister of Finance.

Can the Prime Minister tell us how he plans to use this surplus? Will he use the whole amount to pay down the debt?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Canada is in a good debt position in this period of uncertainty. Because of sound economic management by the Minister of Finance, we are able to maintain a balanced position with tax cuts, investments in aid and reductions of the public debt. We plan to continue that balanced approach and manage the economy effectively in this period of uncertainty.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, would a balanced position not be to use a third of the surplus—$3 billion of the remaining $10.6 billion—to pay down the debt and use $3.5 billion to address the crisis in the manufacturing and forestry industries and help businesses, the regions and workers, particularly in this time of economic uncertainty, because no one can predict whether next year's surplus will be as large as this year's?

Would the government not be taking a balanced approach if it paid down the debt, but did not use the whole surplus to pay down the debt?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, with the surplus created by the Minister of Finance, we have announced $1 billion for the national community development trust. Moreover, with increased equalization payments, Quebec would receive nearly $1 billion in additional funding.

This year, we have cut taxes, which means $8 billion in tax breaks for the manufacturing industry. Reducing the debt will give this government future flexibility so that it can continue to manage the economy effectively.

Guaranteed Income SupplementOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Raymond Gravel Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, given this year's surplus of $10.6 billion, the government could give seniors back their dignity and still allocate $3 billion to the debt. Since the Conservatives are also indebted towards seniors, they must make the guaranteed income supplement fully retroactive to the tune of $3.1 billion, as they had promised.

What is the government waiting for to pay the debt owed to seniors?

Guaranteed Income SupplementOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned seniors. Seniors and workers of all kinds paid a very high price to dig our country out of deficit in the past and the government will not put us back into deficit.

We have been very responsible in ensuring that on the one hand we are providing for seniors by raising the guaranteed income supplement two years in a row. We are providing lower taxes for seniors of all kinds, lifting 185,000 low income Canadians off the tax rolls. These are all measures that the Bloc voted against.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, with this year's $10.6 billion surplus, the government must do a 180-degree turn on the environment. For example, the government could create a $1 billion fund to help individuals cut energy use, while still putting $3 billion towards the debt.

What is the government waiting for to invest in technologies for the environment instead of always favouring its friends, the oil companies?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, this government has taken action and gave the Quebec government more money than it asked for. This is something that has never happened with the Bloc, here in Ottawa. We also gave real tax cuts. And what has the Bloc done, here in Ottawa?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nothing.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

John Baird Conservative Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

It voted no. That is terrible.

AfghanistanOral Questions

February 12th, 2008 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the issue of Afghanistan, it is now absolutely clear that there are two fundamental approaches.

There is an approach to extend the war for another three years, and that is an approach which is inherently going to take us toward more combat, or there is an approach that would launch us on a path toward peace by ending the mission.

Does the Prime Minister agree with his Chief of Defence Staff, who has said that the military presence in Kandahar must inherently include combat? Does he agree with the general, when he says that to say otherwise is illogical?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I obviously agree that Kandahar, in fact Afghanistan as a whole, is a combat zone, but let me remind the leader of the NDP why two successive governments and two parties have decided to be in Afghanistan.

We are there because we are under a mandate approved by the Security Council of the United Nations, supported by virtually the entire international community.

We are there at the invitation of a democratically elected government in Afghanistan, and our troops are protecting ordinary Afghan people who need our help.

We are there because we have young men and women who have put their hearts and souls into this. They believe and know we are doing the right thing, and we will succeed.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, former prime minister Lester Pearson said, “Of all of our dreams today, there is none more important — or so hard to realize — than that of peace--”.

It is clear that the Liberal Party has now abandoned that pathway and it is a sad day. It has chosen to follow the government in extending this war for another three years.

Will the Prime Minister at least agree that there will be a vote on this matter prior to the budget vote taking place, so we can know where the House stands on the prolongation of war versus the--

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The right hon. Prime Minister.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are working on getting a consensus on a motion that can indeed pass the House of Commons, obviously uphold Canada's obligations and international reputation, and support our men and women.

It is not normally my habit to defend the Liberal Party, but the Liberal Party, for example, not only entered us into Afghanistan, but the Liberal Party directed this country through World War II. Parties that run this country understand that in a dangerous world, we sometimes have to use force to maintain peace.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Glen Pearson Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the current approach to our mission is in need of a change. It is now clear that combat alone will not bring lasting peace to the area. Our mission must be one of diplomacy and development, assisting the Afghan people to build their own resources and capacity.

It is what Canada is known for in the world and something of which Canadians are very proud. That must be the focus after our combat mission ends in February 2009.

In light of the recent developments, is the government ready to endorse such a responsible and comprehensive approach?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the ultimate aim of our policy is to leave the Afghans with a country that is more secure, better governed and more peaceful. This is the aim of our policy.

I am pleased to hear that the member of the Liberal Party opposite wants us to do the same thing. I hope we will have common ground. I hope we will be able to have a consensus on the aim of the mission and why we are there for the Afghan people.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Glen Pearson Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the response from the minister. Up until now, ten times as much has been spent on combat operations as on development. The Liberal opposition has been proposing a more enhanced development model for Afghanistan for the past year.

Will the government now provide clarification of its recent statements by confirming that our combat mission will end in February 2009, and that it will change to one of development, diplomacy, and training?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

That is our mission, Mr. Speaker.

We are there for defence and for a more secure Afghanistan. We are helping the Afghan people so they can have a secure and peaceful country. Our diplomats and our development workers are there as well. We want to have a better coordinated approach. We will have a better coordinated approach. I also hope that the international community will have a better coordinated approach.

When I gave my speech at the UN in New York, I said that we needed a UN special envoy for Afghanistan and I hope we will have one.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

The problem with this government, Mr. Speaker, is that it avoids the truth like the plague. For two years now, the government has denied the facts, twisted the truth and misled the people of Canada concerning our mission in Afghanistan. There has been no transparency or accountability. That is unacceptable.

Does the Prime Minister understand why the people of Canada are now refusing to give him carte blanche for a never-ending mission?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to tell my hon. colleague that this government has doubled its development assistance funding for Afghanistan. We believe that, for the sake of security in the country, sustainable development should be ensured for the Afghan people, and that is what we are doing. We need the support of Parliament, and I hope that a common ground can be found in a motion, so that we can support our troops and honour our international commitment.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Minister of Foreign Affairs should listen to the question before answering.

For two years the government has denied and distorted the facts, and deceived the Canadian people about the mission in Afghanistan. No honesty. No transparency. Liberals are demanding it. Canadians deserve it.

Will the Prime Minister finally deliver it, and how?