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House of Commons Hansard #53 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was troops.

Topics

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present in the House today, in both official languages, the following reports of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts: fourth report, chapter 1, Expenditure Management System at the Government Centre, and chapter 2, Expenditure Management System in Departments of the November 2006 report of the Auditor General of Canada; the fifth report, chapter 11, Protection of Public Assets — Office of the Correctional Investigator of the November 2006 report of the Auditor General of Canada; the sixth report on the departmental answers to questions about government responses; the seventh report, chapter 3, Large Information Technology Projects of the November 2006 report of the Auditor General of Canada; and the eighth report of the committee on departmental performance report.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Dawn Black NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-511, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (means of communication for child luring).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this private member's bill to strengthen the laws that protect our children. Children are special and vulnerable and deserve protection against those who would try to exploit or to abuse them.

Luring or grooming is the start of this abuse. Currently, luring a child is a crime only if it is carried out by computer but we know that luring does not always take place in this way. My bill would expand the definition of luring to include grooming by all means, including by cellphone or by mail.

It is time to modernize our child protection laws to ensure that we do protect the safety of our children.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Dawn Black NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-512, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (luring a child outside Canada).

Mr. Speaker, to combat child sex tourism, Canada has laws that prosecute Canadians who travel overseas to abuse children. We must be constantly vigilant and it is now time to strengthen and update these laws.

We know that child abuse often starts with luring and my bill would include luring in the list of offences committed abroad.

If my bill were to pass, Canadians would no longer be able to lure children who are living overseas in order to abuse them.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

National Defence ActRoutine Proceedings

February 25th, 2008 / 3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-513, An Act to amend the National Defence Act (foreign military mission).

Mr. Speaker, the bill I am introducing today at first reading would amend the National Defence Act so that when a foreign military mission includes or might include an offensive facet, the minister in question must table a motion for ratification of the declaration of intention to place the Canadian Forces on active service before the House of Commons.

This essentially means that when any government decides to undertake a mission involving a military component, it must table a motion in the House.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Manufacturing IndustryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand today with petitioners who are calling for a better Canadian manufacturing strategy.

The headlines are troublesome. They include massive job cuts, company closures and hard-working families losing their main source of incomes. Those are only some of the by-products of Canada's current manufacturing crisis. It is a problem that is affecting millions of Canadians who work directly or indirectly in the sector.

We, as members, must put forward a plan to help these families and to help secure Canada's future economic prosperity.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to develop and implement a plan of action to protect Canadian manufacturing jobs in consultation with all stakeholder, including the labour and business communities.

A better strategy is urgently needed to protect Canadian workers and protect Canada's economic future.

Security and Prosperity PartnershipPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to present a petition from almost 200 people in my riding. The 250 people who attended a seminar on the Security and Prosperity Partnership were concerned that the implementation of the SPP will further advance NAFTA's goal of continental economic integration and push Canada closer to deep integration with the U.S.

The petitioners are also concerned about the hearings proceeding further away from public scrutiny, with no democratic mandate. They call upon Parliament to have a full legislative review, including the work, recommendations and reports of all the SPP working groups, and a full debate and vote in Parliament.

Dangerous OffendersPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present two petitions today.

The first petition follows another petition previously presented that called for increased monitoring of dangerous offenders. That petition contains approximately 5,000 signatures, to which I am adding more. The petition calls for an amendment to section 810 of the Criminal Code, in order to protect children from sexual predators.

Secularism of InstitutionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, the other petition has also been signed by citizens in my riding in an effort to ensure the secularism of institutions. Essentially, they are asking that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms be amended to include secularism as one of the primary principles.

Age of Sexual ConsentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present two petitions today.

One petition is presented on behalf of thousands of constituents who call upon the Liberal Senate to stop delaying the tackling violent crime act in order to raise the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16 years old. They believe this is important in protecting children, especially in this new age of online child predators.

International AidPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is from constituents congratulating the government for cutting off aid to the Hamas government in the territories and urging the government to resist pressure from the Liberal opposition to restore that funding to Hamas.

Foreign AffairsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 it is my pleasure and privilege to present a petition signed by several thousand Canadians in the greater Toronto area on the issue of abducted Israeli soldiers in the summer of 2006.

As we know, three soldiers, Gilad Schalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, were abducted by Hamas and Hezbollah. We are all familiar with the events of 2006.

The petitioners call upon Parliament, through the government, to use all reasonable means, including economic sanctions and breaking of ties with those organizations responsible for the abductions and the governments that support them, in order to bring about a safe and swift return of these young men to their families.

While I am on my feet, I have an additional 1,070 signatures on a similar petition from the great citizens of Eglinton—Lawrence who also call upon the government to use all the means available to it to ensure that those same three young men, Gilad Schalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, abducted by Hamas and Hezbollah, be returned to their families and that Parliament employ whatever means available to it, whether it be economic sanctions, breaking of ties with those organizations responsible for the abductions--we know that they have already been declared to be terrorist organizations--and the governments that support them.

All those petitioners rely on Parliament to ensure that these soldiers, who represent the great democratic values around the world, be returned safely and swiftly to their families.

Rights of the UnbornPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a large petition with 2,054 signatures from across the country, from Newfoundland and Labrador all the way to British Columbia. The petitioners request that Parliament enact legislation to protect unborn victims of crime.

I thank Mr. Aydin Cocelli, the brother-in-law of murdered Aysun Sesen who lost her life and the life of her unborn child. He was the instigator of this. He has taken great initiative to provide support for my bill. He is collecting literally thousands of names on petitions across the country on that behalf.

Security and Prosperity PartnershipPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition that is part of a response from thousands of Canadians to the Security and Prosperity Partnership.

The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to stop further implementation of the SPP with the United States and Mexico until there is a democratic mandate from the people of Canada and parliamentary oversight and consideration of the profound consequences the SPP will have on Canada's sovereignty and our ability to adopt autonomous and sustainable economic, social and environmental policies.

The petitioners also urge the Government of Canada to conduct a transparent and accountable public debate of the SPP process, with meaningful public consultations with civil society, a full legislative review, including the work, recommendations and reports of all the SPP working groups, and a full debate and vote in Parliament.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of Motion.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Before members’ statements and oral question period, the hon. member for Papineau had the floor. She now has eight minutes left to finish her remarks.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will simply continue my speech where I left off. Speaking of aid in Afghanistan, Canada and its allies must also channel their aid as much as possible through multilateral organizations, and in particular United Nations agencies, since this will eliminate duplication and avoid working at cross purposes.

As well, the issue of poppy cultivation is key to the economic development of Afghanistan. The illegal opium trade feeds corruption in the Afghan government and is also used to finance the Taliban insurgents. The difficulty, however, lies in the fact that the poppy crop that is the source of opium is still a lucrative means of subsistence for some Afghan growers. We must recognize that since 2002, poppy production has risen steadily. It has increased from 70,000 hectares under cultivation in 2002 to 165,000 hectares in 2006.

We therefore have to try to square the circle: how do we put an end to a crop that is the source of over 90% of the heroin in the world while at the same time making it possible for Afghans to work and earn a living? So far, the strategies used to combat this scourge have been synonymous with failure.

We believe that we must now give serious thought to a three-stage strategy. First, continue and intensify enforcement efforts against drug traffickers. Second, fund and implement programs to encourage alternative crops, while building the infrastructure needed for marketing them. And third, for a transitional period, buy the poppy harvest directly from the small farmers, for medical use.

I would also like to talk about the role Canada should play in the diplomatic realm.

One of the major problems facing the international forces in southern Afghanistan is that the Taliban have a safe haven in Pakistan. That border can be described kindly as extremely porous, and Afghanistan has never recognized the border it shares with Pakistan. Some Pashtuns who have been blithely crossing from one country to the other for millennia even want to see a “Pashtunistan” created on that border.

The government of Canada must bring more diplomatic pressure to bear on the Pakistani government to solve this problem. Pakistan is the linchpin for the consistent stability and development of Afghanistan.

At present, Pakistan is experiencing widespread political instability. Since the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the country has been on the brink of a civil war, with democrats, the military and religious groups engaged in a struggle for power. Canada should use diplomacy, as far as possible, to create the conditions that are needed for stabilizing the country. If Pakistan were to descend into chaos, the impact on Afghanistan would be far-reaching.

In addition to Pakistan, we must also intensify diplomatic efforts in dealing with other actors in the region of Afghanistan, including Iran, India and China. Those countries will have to be involved in resolving the conflict and, as far as possible, in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

And last, the Afghan government, the international community and Canada must be open to negotiations with the Taliban, again, as far as possible, in order to achieve a lasting peace. Negotiations have already been held between the Afghan government and the Taliban, in September 2007. The Taliban demanded that the foreign forces leave the country in exchange for surrendering their weapons. The Afghan government refused. We must still recognize, however, that this was the first time since 2001 that the government and the Taliban had engaged in negotiations.

I want to mention a final point. Whether in Afghanistan or elsewhere, the Bloc Québécois has always supported the principle that Canada must treat prisoners humanely and in accordance with the Geneva Convention and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. This has hardly been the case of the detainees transferred to the Afghan authorities. Having heard about major problems and the torture of detainees, we asked repeatedly for changes to the relevant agreement between Canada and the Afghan defence department.

As a result of all the pressure exerted by the Bloc Québécois and civil society, Canada signed a second agreement with Afghanistan on the treatment of detainees on May 3, 2007.

It was an improvement on the 2005 agreement, but to be effective, it had to be vigorously enforced.

Problems persisted however, and the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, eventually admitted in November 2007 that there were still cases of torture in Afghan prisons. He said his government’s record was a thousand times better that what it had been, but there were still times when people were threatened or even tortured.

The Prime Minister cannot continue to insist, therefore, that the allegations of torture are just Taliban propaganda. Canada has a duty to take action to ensure that the safety and dignity of detainees are not compromised when they are transferred to Afghan authorities.

In the Bloc’s view, there should be a framework agreement between NATO and the Afghan government on detainee transfers. It would ensure greater uniformity in the treatment of detainees and more control over what goes on in Afghan prisons.

The Bloc Québécois feels as well that, in proposing to extend this mission until December 2011 instead of ending it in February 2009 as originally intended, the Conservative government is completely disregarding the desires of the people of Quebec, who are vehemently opposed.

Our soldiers have done their part by fighting for several years in the most dangerous area in Afghanistan. Other troops should take over now, and we should turn our talents toward helping the people of Afghanistan through the training of Afghan forces, reconstruction, development and diplomacy. That is what we know how to do best.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague from Papineau on her fine speech, which was very clear and incisive.

Parliamentarians are facing a black hole they will not acknowledge and, at all costs, want to avoid talking about the cultivation of poppies. I thought my colleague was very clear on this point. Maybe she could just finish up, though, by telling us how poppies could used in the health sector to the benefit of the people of Afghanistan.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

Poppy production is clearly a scourge in Afghanistan. However, if the international powers agreed on a use for poppies at the international level, especially for medical purposes, that could help solve part of the problem. But since the Afghans use poppies to earn money to meet their needs, poppy cultivation should not be eradicated completely. Other uses for poppies must be found.

Repression will not solve this problem. Other ways must be found to help the Afghan people and help them gradually stop growing poppies, as much as possible.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Dawn Black NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the comments of the member opposite on the motion to extend the war in Afghanistan. How does she feel about the statements, which even the President of Afghanistan, Mr. Karzai, has made, that negotiations are needed with elements of the insurgency? Does she agree with that? Further, does she see the omission of a path for negotiations in the motion as a glaring omission?

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for that very good question.

There is nothing really new in the motion before us. Postponing the end of the mission to 2011 does not meet any new condition. It is just the same as if we ended the mission in 2009.

We therefore fail to see the merits of this measure. To us, it is just more of the same. Nothing in what we have seen so far could persuade us to look at this issue differently and refuse to vote for the motion.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Independent Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must have missed something.

In view of her concerns about poppy production and given everything the Afghan people need to rebuild, recover and live in security, does my colleague not think it would be dangerous and irresponsible to leave Afghanistan?

What will happen if we send a message to NATO members now that we can join them, but at some point in the future, we are no longer happy with the mission and want to leave Afghanistan on a few months' notice?

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. What we are saying is that Canadian troops have done enough. That is the crux of the matter.

In our opinion, leaving the combat zone of Kandahar does not mean the end of the mission. There are 38 countries directly involved. It seems to us that after three years and considerable loss of life, Canada should be able to go elsewhere and do what it does best, that is work in humanitarian aid, reconstruction and development.

That is in keeping with what Quebeckers want. They do not want us to abandon the Afghan people. They want us to do the work for which, over the years, we have gained an enviable reputation that is now being tarnished because we are fighting a war that we will never win.