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House of Commons Hansard #100 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is a day to think about lost opportunities for Canadian leadership overseas.

We could be campaigning for a seat on the Security Council. We could be leading the fight to ban cluster munitions. We could be helping out in China and Burma. But instead, what are we doing? The Conservative government has been interfering in American elections. It has been losing classified documents for weeks on end and betraying the confidence of our allies. The government's actions have made us a laughing stock in every newspaper in the world.

Is this what they mean--

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. The hon. government House leader.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, Canada's leadership on the world stage is impressive. We are leading in Afghanistan. We are leading in NATO. We are the second largest contributor to the peacekeeping force in Darfur. We are the second largest donor in the world to the World Food Programme. These are impressive contrasts with the previous government.

The Liberal leader wants to go into Pakistan. That is his way of solving the Afghanistan issue. That is his idea of leadership. The Liberal idea of how to get on the United Nations Security Council was to spend millions on a campaign to try and buy that seat with free tickets to Cirque du Soleil and God knows what other entertainment events.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will trade our reputation on the international stage for theirs any day.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. We have to be able to hear the question. The hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore has the floor to ask a question.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is what the government has accomplished: embarrassment in Bali, retreat at the Security Council, and complete disappearance during the crises in Burma and China. The Prime Minister chose a foreign affairs minister who was not up to the job. The government is making us an international laughingstock.

What is he going to do now to restore Canada’s reputation on the international scene?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.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 Conservative record on foreign affairs is one of the proudest in the world. It is that way because of Conservative governments and people like John Diefenbaker and like Brian Mulroney, who led the fight against apartheid.

We have had here this week the President of the Ukraine. We have had a delegation from Latvia. We have today the President of Estonia.

Those are all countries that were recognized and supported in their fight for freedom by Conservative governments, while Liberals were cozying up to communists, saying that there really was no difference between the United States and the Soviet Union and the west and the Soviet Union, but guess what? There is a difference between freedom and cozying up to authoritarians. We stand for freedom because--

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, after the minister of foreign affairs resigned, the Prime Minister said, in Europe, that there was no problem, no security risk, and the famous secret documents had not been circulated. In other words, to hear the Prime Minister, we wonder why the minister resigned.

On a more serious note, in addition to showing a lack of judgment, why is the Prime Minister stubbornly denying the obvious security problem?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, cabinet rules are clear. The member realized he had made a serious mistake, and his resignation was accepted. The issue of the documents is very important and security is very important. That is the reason why the minister of foreign affairs resigned.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, for two days the Prime Minister has been telling us that leaving secret documents lying around is a serious mistake. And yet the Globe and Mail reports that the first reaction by the Prime Minister and his office was to keep the minister in his position, to continue as if nothing had happened and to wait and see what TVA would disclose.

How can the Prime Minister claim to have acted responsibly when on Monday he was still hoping to save his minister’s skin, even knowing that secret documents had been mislaid?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.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 leader of the Bloc Québécois is not correct. The Prime Minister acted as soon as he learned that cabinet rules had been broken. The member for Beauce realized he had made a serious mistake, and his resignation was accepted.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are told that the Prime Minister’s Office only learned on Monday about the loss of sensitive documents. So for five weeks no one was concerned about where they were. It was only when a lawyer told them about it that someone got worried. Everybody knows that the Department of Foreign Affairs has the most rigorous system for tracking sensitive or confidential files.

Is the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons going to deny that such a system exists?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, there are various systems in the departments and with cabinet for ensuring security of documents. Those must be adhered to rigorously.

It was the failure to adhere to those requirements that resulted in the resignation of the member for Beauce as foreign affairs minister.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is certainly responsible for much of the five weeks it took to realize they had been lost.

Not only should the former minister of foreign affairs have been aware himself that he had mislaid documents, but the Prime Minister’s Office should have been too. Is the truth not rather that it was when they knew that Julie Couillard would be disclosing it that very evening on television that they decided to act?

Is the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons going to admit that the Prime Minister knew about the document being lost and admit that the government tried to conceal it to serve partisan interests?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, it is right to realize his responsibilities in relation to documents. That is something very important. The mistake made by the member for Beauce was a serious one and that is the reason for his resignation.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP called for the minister to resign a long time ago. Clearly, he repeatedly demonstrated poor judgment.

Now that we know the member was in the habit of leaving confidential documents lying around and forgetting about them for five weeks, can the government tell us if other documents have gone missing? Will the government hold an inquiry to make sure that national secrets were not forgotten at a Starbucks or the gym?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.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 minister of foreign affairs was asked to examine the situation. He may ask appropriate agencies for help in doing that. We are waiting for the report.

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the former minister was in charge when the NAFTA-gate leak happened. Despite protests from his officials, but under pressure from the Minister of Public Safety and the PMO, he got a young Republican fundraiser appointed to a job at the Canadian embassy, Frank Sensenbrenner, now apparently the epicentre of that leak.

In light of that new information, will the government make sure, as promised by the Prime Minister in this House on March 5, “that every legal and investigative technique necessary” will be “undertaken to find out who exactly is behind” the NAFTA leak?

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, as the leader of the NDP is fully aware, the Clerk of the Privy Council undertook an extensive examination into this matter, retaining the best available consultants. In their findings clearing the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff and our ambassador in Washington as not having released any classified information, the difficulty, of course, was that the memo in question was circulated to over 200 people, some of whom were outside the foreign affairs department.

There is no evidence of the type that he suggests and as we have seen in the newspaper articles, but simply mere assertions. The facts and the findings of the report state quite differently.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

May 28th, 2008 / 2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is now clear that our questions about the conduct of the former foreign affairs minister have been absolutely legitimate, but circumstances still demand some clarification from the government.

When did the government learn about the missing cabinet documents? When were the documents retrieved from Madam Couillard? Who retrieved them? Was it the RCMP? Was it CSIS? Was it PCO security? When and by whom?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.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 think there has been a fair bit of media attention on this question. There is not a lot of mystery. Documents were left. They were left in an unsecured place. Madam Couillard undertook with her lawyer to return those, and they were returned. We do know that they were returned and she has indicated that publicly.

With regard to whether there are any other security issues related to that, Foreign Affairs is conducting a review of that matter and can draw on whatever resources it wants. There is no mystery there. The event is a pretty simple one and has nothing to do with people's personal lives.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, since the government House leader would not answer the question, I have a question for the public safety minister.

We have been led to believe that more was happening behind the scenes than has been admitted by the government. Can the public safety minister confirm that between May 1 and May 8 of this year there was a meeting of CSIS and the Prime Minister's Office to discuss the conduct of his foreign affairs minister?