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House of Commons Hansard #66 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was troops.

Topics

Canadian Security Intelligence ServiceRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Oxford Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, under the provisions of Standing Order 32(2) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service public reports for 2005-06 and 2006-07.

These reports provide an overview of the global threat environment and the efforts made by CSIS to ensure national security. The government's most important duty is the safety of all Canadians. These reports also send a clear message that the Government of Canada is committed to security, as well as transparency and accountability.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to three petitions.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

March 13th, 2008 / 10 a.m.

South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale B.C.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present, in both official languages, three reports from the Canadian branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association concerning the 53rd Commonwealth parliamentary conference held in New Delhi, India, from September 21 to 30, 2007; the 19th Commonwealth parliamentary seminar, held in Edinburgh, Scotland, from October 28 to November 3, 2007; and the CPA U.K. branch seminar on climate change held in London, United Kingdom, from November 26 to 30, 2007.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Finance in relation to a study on assistance for the manufacturing and forestry sectors.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Norman Doyle Conservative St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on spousal sponsorship and removal. Also attached is a dissenting report.

Public Safety and National SecurityCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in relation to the review of the witness protection program.

Organ Donor Registry ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-527, An Act to establish a National Organ Donor Registry and to coordinate and promote organ donation throughout Canada.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure on this World Kidney Day to introduce an act to establish a national organ donor registry and to coordinate and promote organ donation throughout Canada.

The bill is intended to save lives by ensuring that Canadians in need of life-saving organs can benefit from the most efficient and coordinated system of identifying and matching donors to meet the needs.

We are painfully aware of the urgent need to improve our organ donation system. More than 4,000 Canadians are currently awaiting an organ transplant. One hundred and forty-six Canadians died in 2007 while awaiting for an organ. Of the 242 who died while waiting the year before, 73 were waiting for a kidney.

It is my belief and the belief of many others that we can benefit from this kind of legislation. It can make a difference in the lives of Canadians who are desperately in need of organs today.

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

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-528, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (judicial discretion).

Mr. Speaker, this is a relatively simple and straightforward bill. It would have the effect of reintroducing judicial discretion into the Criminal Code no matter what other clauses there may be in the code with regard to mandatory minimums.

The clause, no creativity here on my part, is very similar to the clause that is in the system in England. It has worked extremely well for those in England where the legislature determines what mandatory minimums should be, but in those extreme, unusual, human conditions where there needs to be some flexibility, it allows that to the judiciary.

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

Abolition of Nuclear WeaponsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

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

The first petition is from constituents and Canadians from coast to coast to coast who call upon the government to reinvigorate its support for the anti-nuclear movement and asks that the government actually establish itself as a global peace-builder that will call on and recommit our nation to the abolition of nuclear weapons as a top priority.

Food AdditivesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is from constituents and Canadians calling upon the government to prohibit the use of hormones, antibiotics, rendered slaughterhouse waste, genetically modified organisms and pesticides in food production.

Firearms RegistryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the opportunity and privilege to present two petitions calling upon the government and the House of Commons to move swiftly to enact legislation or remove legislation that would require long guns to continue to be registered.

The petitioners call upon the government and the House of Commons to consider that the majority of crimes are not committed by long guns but rather by other types of guns that otherwise would be registered and really illegal firearms. They call upon us as members of Parliament to consider that the cost has not done anything to improve safety in Canada.

I have the privilege of presenting these thousands of names from constituents from the Peace River constituency.

Human TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have hundreds of names submitted to me on the subject of human trafficking.

The petitioners are asking that the government continue its good work on stopping the horrendous crime of human trafficking across Canada.

Age of ConsentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I know we have passed Bill C-2 but I have some petitions that just arrived in my office concerning raising the age of consent from 14 to 16 years of age and I would respectfully submit those as well.

Sri LankaPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I would like to present a petition signed by 83 constituents from my riding of Etobicoke Centre.

Last November, the designated peace negotiator for the Tamil side, Mr. Thamilselvan, was killed by a targeted Sri Lankan air strike. Since then, the Sri Lankan government has officially rescinded its support for the peace process and Sri Lanka has descended into even greater violence and a more furious civil war.

The petitioners urge the Prime Minister to demonstrate leadership by engaging in multilateral diplomatic efforts to help ensure the success of a ceasefire and peace negotiations in war-ravaged Sri Lanka.

Let Canada be at the forefront of making the case for peace.

Firearms RegistryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

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

The first petition has been signed by thousands of Torontonians who are very concerned that stray bullets, like the one that killed Mr. John O'Keefe, on Saturday, January 12 on Yonge Street as he was walking down the street and, five days later, another stray bullet that killed Mr. Mao while he was stacking oranges outside a grocery store where he worked.

The petitioners are concerned about these innocent victims of gun violence and call upon Parliament to ensure there is a federal ban on the ownership of handguns and that 2,500 new police officers will be hired to make the streets safer.

The petitioners also feel that we need to strengthen Canada's witness protection program to ensure members of the community, especially young people, will more readily come forward with information they have about handgun crimes in the neighbourhoods.

The petitioners believe that long term, stable funding for successful youth safety crime prevention programs is important.

They are also asking that we hold a Canada-U.S. summit of lawmakers and law enforcement personnel from all levels of government, along with stakeholders, to tackle the ongoing crisis of illegal handguns being smuggled into Canada.

Undocumented WorkersPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from Canadians who are concerned about the 200,000 undocumented workers and their families.

The petitioners are asking that the Government of Canada stop deportations while the new immigration policy is being put in place. They ask that the Government of Canada establish an in-Canada program to offer work permits to law-abiding workers and their families, and that the Government of Canada create a long term solution for a fair program.

Income TrustsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this income trust broken promise petition on behalf of a number of Canadians, particularly from the city of Peterborough, Ontario, who remember the Prime Minister boasting about his apparent commitment to accountability when he said that the greatest fraud was a promise not kept.

The petitioners would remind the Prime Minister that he promised never to tax income trusts but he recklessly broke that promise by imposing a 31.5% punitive tax which permanently wiped out over $21 billion of the hard-earned retirement savings of over two million Canadians, particularly seniors.

The petitioners, therefore, call upon the Conservative minority government to admit that the decision to tax income trusts was based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions; second, to apologize to those who were unfairly harmed by this broken promise; and finally, to repeal the punitive 31.5% tax on income trusts.

Bill C-484PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, petitions keep roaring into this place in support of my bill, Bill C-484.

Thousands of petitioners believe that if a woman is purposefully pregnant and wants to have her child, she deserves the right of the law to protect that unborn child. They ask that we in this Parliament produce legislation to that effect, and, of course, my Bill C-484 would do that.

This is another group of some 800 petitioners, which brings the total number now that I have presented to over 10,000.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

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

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from March 11 consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

When debate last ended on this motion, the hon. member for Calgary West had the floor, but at this point we shall proceed to resuming debate and I recognize the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to say that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Wetaskiwin.

It is with great honour that I rise today to take part in the debate on the future of Canada's mission in Afghanistan. I take part in the debate, solemnly acknowledging the sacrifices our soldiers make each day in Afghanistan and the extended mission we are asking them to take on.

Canada has lost some of its bravest soldiers during this mission and I feel it is ever more important that we keep their ultimate sacrifices in mind as we consider the motion.

I will be supporting the motion before us today. I note that the motion expressly states that this House believes that Canada must remain committed to the people of Afghanistan beyond February 2009.

It is this statement that appeals to the hearts and minds of Canadians by committing Canada to upholding the very rights and freedoms we cherish. It is this statement that I feel echoes the sentiments expressed by a great Canadian leader who is recognized, among many things, for his pursuit of basic human rights for all people.

While introducing Canada's Bill of Rights in 1960, former Prime Minister the right hon. John Diefenbaker said:

I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.

The right hon. John Diefenbaker was committed to ensuring men and women, regardless of age, sex or ethnicity, were free. He was also committed to ensuring that these rights existed for all people, not just Canadians.

I believe his declaration of rights and freedoms epitomizes what Canada has stood for throughout history and continues to stand for today.

From World War II, when we liberated Holland of its Nazi oppressors, to the Korean War, where we stood firm to halt the aggression from the north and maintain peace, and to the current mission in Afghanistan, Canada has been a beacon of hope to millions of people. Throughout it all, we have fought to uphold the rights and freedoms of all people.

It was never a question of whether it was worth it. It was never a question of value. Canada took on these dangerous missions because it was the right thing to do. That is why I am disappointed when I hear members questioning why we are currently in Afghanistan, members questioning the value of this mission.

I was extremely disappointed when I heard the hon. member for Vancouver East, during the debate on Monday, ridicule the Conservative position that Canada is in Afghanistan to defend democracy.

What appalls me is that she made this misinformed statement mere days after six female members of Afghanistan's national assembly visited Canada, and not only thanked Canada for its humanitarian and peacekeeping assistance but urged Canada to continue its efforts to ensure that democracy would survive.

If the hon. member for Vancouver East will not take the government at its word, I hope she will at least acknowledge the legitimate appeals from a female member of Afghanistan's national assembly.

The NDP and the Bloc would have us pull our troops out and leave that country to stand on its own. However, I am grateful that our government and the official opposition believe that it is fundamentally important to ensure the rights and freedoms of all people are protected, including those outside of Canada.

We understand that this cannot be done solely by holding peace rallies and making lofty proclamations. At times, protecting lives requires using force. At times, supporting the quest for freedom, rights, democracy and equality requires intervention and sacrifice.

It is at these times that Canada has always led by example, and our brave men and women in the armed forces have shown exemplary courage.

I would like to move on to an important issue that personally impacts me. March 8 was International Women's Day. I feel it is only fitting, as a female member of Parliament, that I address the inroads that we have made in Afghanistan with respect to women's rights.

I am pleased that Canada is developing a local, field-managed, rapid response fund to help reduce discrimination against women and girls. This initiative will allow for more and more Afghani women to participate in the Afghani society.

It is also important to note that Canada's government has made it a priority to support projects for women in three primary areas: economic empowerment, access to education, and the legal protection of women's rights.

Since 2006 Canada has invested $13 million in the micro finance investment support facility, making it the largest donor. This program provides small loans and financial services to impoverished Afghans to start new businesses, and buy land and animals to support themselves.

What is so important about this particular micro finance program is that more than two-thirds of its clients are women who are being given the opportunity to participate equally in their society. This is astounding progress in a country that under the previous brutal regime prevented women from participating in society and denied them their basic human rights.

I have spoken at length about human rights and women's rights. I would like to speak about one of the most heinous abuses of human rights affecting Afghan women and children today, and that is human trafficking. This is an issue that I have passionately raised many times in the House.

Afghan children are trafficked internally as well as to Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Zimbabwe for commercial sexual exploitation, forced into marriage to settle debts or disputes, forced into begging and debt bondage, serve as child soldiers, or other forms of involuntary servitude. Afghan women are trafficked internally, and to Pakistan and Iran for commercial sexual exploitation. Men are trafficked to Iran for forced labour.

This is something that our government is addressing in Afghanistan. We are working to confront the poverty and underlying issues that cause human trafficking through our development aid programs.

It is important to remember we are in Afghanistan at the request of the Afghans themselves who have suffered decades of oppression and poverty. The values we hold dearly as Canadians, freedom, democracy and human rights, urge us to respond. That is why we must stay. There is much work to be done, especially in regard to human trafficking.

According to the U.S. trafficking in persons report, the government of Afghanistan has yet to meet minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. However, it is making a significant effort to do so. The Afghan government has been developing legislation to fight human trafficking over the past year.

Canada is playing a key part in helping Afghanistan develop its judicial system. We are currently helping to reform the Afghan justice system to promote human rights and protect its citizens. We have supported skills development in the Afghan supreme court, attorneys office, and the ministry of justice. We cannot do this if we are disengaged from Afghanistan.

I also want to note that the government of Afghanistan has made modest improvements in its efforts to protect victims of trafficking. In March 2007 the government of Afghanistan provided land to the International Organization for Migration to build a shelter especially designed for child victims of trafficking.

During the past year Afghanistan also conducted a broad public awareness campaign to educate the public on the dangers of trafficking and the resources for assistance.

I strongly believe that Canada can continue to play a guiding role in helping Afghanistan combat human trafficking and the exploitation of women and children, especially through development and diplomacy.

As I mentioned before, the roots of human trafficking are found in inequality and poverty. Canada is working to put an end to these very evils in Afghanistan.

Canada has invested over $50 million in the national solidarity program, which gives rural Afghans, especially women, the opportunity to have a voice in the development process. This process identifies community needs such as: safe drinking water and sanitation, transport, irrigation, electricity, education, health, public buildings, and improvements in agriculture.

These initiatives greatly help to eradicate the widespread poverty and inequality that contributes to the problem of human trafficking. Again, we cannot do this if we are not in Afghanistan.

Approximately a year ago, this very House unanimously passed my Motion No. 153 that called for the condemnation of the trafficking of women and children across international borders for the purpose of sexual exploitation. It called on the government to immediately adopt a comprehensive strategy to combat the trafficking of persons worldwide.

I would now ask that all members again unanimously support a motion that contains the same sentiments of combating human trafficking worldwide, in this case, in Afghanistan.

We want to continue in Afghanistan because it is the right thing to do. I know that all hon. members in this House are proud Canadians who are free to speak without fear, free to worship in their own way, free to stand up for what they think, free to oppose what they believe is wrong, and free to choose who governs their country.

I hope that they are also the type of Canadians who would pledge to uphold this heritage of freedom not just for themselves but for all of mankind by supporting this motion on Afghanistan that is before us today.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the member's speech. The Afghanistan issue is not an easy one. It is neither all black or all white. However, what is clear is that, from the beginning, any Canadian involvement has been improvised. The Minister of National Revenue, who was the national defence critic two years ago, asked the former government 16 questions about what should be considered for this mission's future. Since then, the new government has been unable to answer those questions.

I have a question for the member. This mission is unbalanced and we all acknowledge that Afghanistan needs diplomatic assistance from the international community. But in order to really support our troops, should we not end our offensive mission in Kandahar in February 2009, as the vast majority of Canadians and an even bigger majority of Quebeckers are expecting?

It is very important to make the distinction between offensive military involvement in Kandahar and the involvement of NATO and the international community in Afghanistan. Is it not just throwing the baby out with the bath water to lump all of that together and to want to continue an offensive war in which Canada has already done its part? Other countries could take its place in Kandahar.

Lastly, would the most responsible thing for Canada to do on the international scene not be to inform the international community that we will leave Kandahar in February 2009 and that we will no longer participate the current, aggressive military mission?