This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #46 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was aboriginal.

Topics

AfghanistanOral Questions

February 7th, 2008 / 2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, last April, the House voted on a Liberal motion to affirm the end of our combat mission in February 2009 and immediately inform NATO of the need to find replacements for our troops.

Unfortunately, the Prime Minister, supported by the leader of the NDP, rejected that motion. A full year after this huge mistake, will the Prime Minister realize that Canada, NATO and Afghanistan, all of these, would be in a much better position today if he had not wasted a full year?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as the Manley panel of independent experts said, the previous government chose Kandahar in 2005. We undertook important obligations to the Afghan people in Kandahar whom we are protecting, as well as to the broader international community.

Obviously, we had an extension of the mission, voted on in Parliament, to February 2009. NATO is aware that is the case. NATO is also aware that this government is willing to extend that commitment if we can get certain conditions fulfilled by NATO countries.

The choice for all parties in this House will be clear: to support the military mission or not to support it.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is now saying that the mission as originally conceived must change or be ended. If that is true today, it was true a year ago. He has not been doing his job for the past year. He did not inform NATO that we could not continue the mission as originally conceived. He made everyone—NATO, Afghanistan and Canada—waste a whole year.

Will he admit that if he did so it was because ultimately what he is proposing is a never-ending mission?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, NATO has been informed several times of the political situation in Canada, the fact that Parliament extended the mission until February 2009 and that the government has to make a decision after that.

We accept the recommendations of the Manley panel, namely that we should extend our mission if NATO provides more troops and equipment.

The choice for all parties in this House will be difficult but straightforward: support the military mission or oppose it.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve the truth from the Prime Minister. He must be honest about his plan for a never-ending mission. He should also end the mismanagement and confusion: ministers contradicting each other, ministers misleading the House.

How can Canadians have any trust in the Prime Minister with his plan for a never-ending mission, a prime minister who controls everything but runs nothing?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government established a panel of independent experts consisting of people from both partisan backgrounds, including and led by the former deputy prime minister of the Liberal Party.

The recommendations of that panel, I think widely accepted, are very clear, that we have a choice. The choice is to do and in fact to strengthen the military mission, or to not do the military mission and to abandon those commitments. On that fundamental question, those two choices, Canadians deserve the truth from every political party.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we go into a national debate about Afghanistan, the government owes Canadians a clear explanation of its position.

The Prime Minister has said that he will not extend the mission unless he receives 1,000 additional troops from NATO.

If this is the policy, the Prime Minister ought to answer three basic questions. Why did it take him so long to pick up the phone? What assurances can he give Canadians that they will actually find the troops in time? And most important of all, what evidence does he have that 1,000 will make any real difference?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, we have accepted the recommendations of an expert independent panel that on behalf of the government has consulted widely.

In terms of the additional troops and equipment that the panel identified as necessary to training, to long term success and exit, we have discussed those recommendations with the chief of the defence staff and the military. They are in agreement with those recommendations.

Once again, the question for every party in the House is, do they support the extension of the military mission, or do they not support it?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, hiding behind the Manley report is not the answer. An additional 1,000 soldiers could turn into a simple political gesture or a symbolic presence, but our troops need help and reinforcements immediately.

I will ask the question again. Where will these 1,000 soldiers come from and what exactly will they do to help us? Canadians need an honest answer from the Prime Minister. Does he have one?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the recommendations are quite simple: we need 1,000 NATO soldiers and some major equipment to help us in our military mission in Kandahar.

This government is clear: we accept this recommendation. Without a response from NATO to these requests, Canada will not extend the mission in Afghanistan. We are nonetheless prepared to do so if NATO gives us the help we have asked for.

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in his desire for an election at all costs, the Prime Minister is putting his own partisan interests ahead of files that are much more important, including the crisis facing the manufacturing and forestry industries. By fueling election rumours over the past few days, the Prime Minister seems to want people to forget that his assistance plan is inadequate and that everyone is demanding improvements.

Since the manufacturing and forestry industries are in full crisis, will the Prime Minister attend to the most urgent things first, in other words, improve his assistance plan?

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we introduced an important plan for these industries throughout Canada. The community development trust is a plan that will help many industries in several provinces. It comes in addition to other measures taken by this government in various files, including the fall economic statement. As always, this government will continue to work to help and strengthen the Canadian economy.

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, with a $10.6 billion surplus for 2007-08, the Prime Minister easily has the means to improve his assistance plan, especially since Ontario and Quebec are particularly hard hit by the economic slowdown.

Will the Prime Minister set aside his own partisan interests and focus on what matters: helping the workers, businesses and communities affected by the crisis in the manufacturing and forestry sectors?

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, with two budgets, two economic statements from the Minister of Finance and a softwood lumber agreement, this government is taking action to help the forestry sector and other sectors of our economy. In many such instances, our actions were supported by the Bloc. I hope the Bloc will continue to support the important measures that this government is prepared to implement for the Canadian economy.

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance himself acknowledged yesterday that the economy is slowing down. However, he prefers to adopt a laissez-faire approach rather than being proactive and countering the effects of this downturn. In addition, he has announced in advance that there will be nothing in the budget to deal with the crisis.

Now that the Minister of Finance has acknowledged that the economy is slowing, is it not his duty to use some of the current $10.6 billion surplus for additional measures which will immediately improve the assistance plan for the manufacturing and forestry sectors?

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we are obviously in a period of prebudget debate in the House. In this debate, we have the opportunity to indicate what the government has done in the past two years, not only to make our economy competitive but also to ensure that our businesses and workers have the necessary tools to deal with a possible downturn. The commitment of $1 billion across Canada for the most vulnerable sectors is an initiative that deserves to be recognized.

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities may have “zero” to say but, as the zero expert, he has annually handed out over $900 million to oil companies. The minister gets a zero for that.

Can this minister, who has sold out to the oil companies, tell us what he has done for the workers in Maniwaki and the Haute-Gatineau region, for example, where plants are closing? That is a big, fat zero.

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, in reality—since he is letting me repeat it—for 18 years the Bloc Québécois has done zero itself in terms of projects, bills, jobs created. I, at least, can proudly say this evening to the people in Maniwaki, in my riding, I can easily say that I delivered the goods.

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to ensuring the health care for the hard-working families of this country, the fact is that the Prime Minister cannot be trusted.

Here are the facts. Millions of families cannot find a doctor. Nursing shortages are reaching crisis levels in this country. Prescription drug costs are soaring and wait lists are growing for home care and long term care. Now we see privatization, making health care less affordable and available for Canadians across the country.

If the Prime Minister promised to fix the health care problems that were left by the previous government, how come they are only getting worse?

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree that the health care problems are getting worse, although I do agree that health care remains a major challenge for this country.

That is why this government, led by the Minister of Health, has undertaken a number of important cooperative initiatives with the provinces to deal with the wait times problem.

I can certainly say, as a private citizen, that my family and I have always depended on the public health care system. That is what I will be depending on the day I leave office. I can assure the hon. member, that is where my heart is and that is what we in the government will aim to make sure it works.

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government must show some leadership and not let the private sector control our health care system, as we are seeing in Ontario, Alberta and now in Montreal, with its private clinics.

Within 10 years, the shortage of nurses will reach 113,000. We need 5,000 more family doctors in this country because 5 million people do not have their own family doctor.

When will the health care crisis be taken seriously by this government? When will we start to see results?

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the health care system is a very important issue to all Canadian families. That is why this government, led by the Minister of Health, is working in cooperation with the provinces—not against them—to better manage the system, to increase staff and to shorten waiting lists. We are starting to make progress.

As I just said, in my private life, my family and I have always used the public health care system, and we believe in this system.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, when Justice Mactavish dismissed today the injunction sought by Amnesty International and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association on the Afghan detainees transfer, she clearly stated that there are:

--very real concerns as to the effectiveness of the steps that have been taken thus far to ensure that detainees transferred by the Canadian Forces to the custody of Afghan authorities are not mistreated.

Since torture is a serious issue in Afghan controlled prisons, will the government notify Parliament and Canadians before transfers are resumed?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I have already told the House and I am pleased to say it again for the hon. member: we signed an agreement last May, to improve the agreement signed by the previous Liberal government. This agreement is still in effect. The Canadian Forces have the discretion to enforce the agreement in the field.

I can assure you that if ever cases of abuse or allegations of abuse are raised with our officials, they will contact the Afghan government directly to follow up on the allegations.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the government is still shirking its responsibilities.

Justice Mactavish also said:

Furthermore, in the event that transfers do resume...we do not know what additional safeguards may be put into place to protect detainees while they are in the hands of the Afghan authorities.

What will it take for this government to tell us the truth about this scandal that is marring our reputation on the world stage because of their insignificance, their incompetence and their dishonesty?