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 #111 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was report.

Topics

National Defence ActPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today to give my full support to the bill introduced by the hon. member for Ahuntsic.

My colleague has seen with her own two eyes what the expression “war zone” means. She went to Lebanon during the period following the Israeli attacks in the summer of 2006. I believe she knows exactly what she is talking about when speaking about the delicate situations facing our soldiers deployed abroad, especially in armed conflict zones.

I am very proud that my party introduced Bill C-513 and even more proud that it was my colleague who introduced it. In my time as a member of this House, we have had a number of opportunities to debate the relevance, importance and duration of Canadian military missions abroad.

That is how it should be in a parliamentary democracy. In this House, sometimes—let us be honest—we clash on relatively minor issues and we hotly debate bills that involve very small amounts of money. However, it is possible in this country, in this great democracy of ours, to send young people to risk their lives in conflict zones, without any debate in Parliament.

The Bloc Québécois has always defended the interests and values of Quebeckers, but we have always shown the utmost respect for Canadian institutions, starting with Parliament. I would like the government to show the same respect for Parliament and acknowledge that the House should vote on issues as important and challenges as fundamental as deploying our troops abroad.

We often hear that Canadian military missions abroad are geared toward peacekeeping and democracy building. Indeed, that is often the case, but we have to think about applying that rule at home. To do so, the decision whether or not to deploy troops in offensive missions must be made by the public and its representatives, in other words, the elected members.

Sometimes the public is not unanimous regarding its country's military involvement in a foreign mission. That is more often the rule than the exception. In a democracy, it is up to the public to decide on these issues that we cannot leave to the sole discretion of the government of the day.

Let us be clear: it is not a matter of allowing parliamentarians to interfere in the operational decisions of the Canadian Forces. Canada has people who are much more competent and more experienced than parliamentarians to make such decisions.

However, no decision is more important than the decision to deploy soldiers overseas, and that decision must be made by the House.

Soldiers from Quebec and Canada risk their lives to protect local people against attackers, defend our interests or restore and keep peace. We must carefully weigh all aspects of a situation and be sure to make the best, most informed choice possible before sending our young soldiers into harm's way.

We in the Bloc feel that it is important to amend section 32 of the National Defence Act when a foreign mission includes or might include an offensive facet.

Our current mission in Afghanistan is a telling example. Canada decided to join the mission because it is a member of NATO. The objective was to chase the Taliban out of Kabul and capture Osama bin Laden.

When the mission began to go on longer, the federal government began to subtly change what it was saying, implying that Canada was now in Afghanistan for humanitarian reasons. Today, seven years later, far more money is allocated to the military aspect than to the humanitarian aspect of Canada's mission, and Canada and its allies are at serious risk of getting stuck in Afghanistan.

Moreover, we cannot ignore the fact that we have unfortunately lost more than 80 soldiers in Afghanistan.

The House held a vote on whether to extend the mission. That is as it should be.

The Bloc voted against extending the mission. We felt and still feel that Canada has done more than its share and that it is another country's turn to take over in southern Afghanistan.

True to their recent form, the Liberals hummed and hawed, deliberated and split hairs until no one in this House or anywhere in Canada understood anything anymore about their confusing and shifting position.

When the dust had settled, Parliament had voted to keep our soldiers in Afghanistan until 2011.

We are talking about Canadian military involvement that is going to go on for at least a decade. That is longer than Canada's involvement in the first world war, the second world war, the Korean war and the Gulf war.

Moreover, that is one of the main conclusions that can be drawn from this Afghan adventure. We know when the mission begins, but we never know when and under what conditions it will end. That is one more reason Parliament should make the initial decision. It is sometimes more momentous than we might like to believe.

Remember the American intervention in Southeast Asia. When the Americans sent their first “military advisors” to Vietnam at the very beginning of the 1960s, they had not idea that the war would end 15 years later, in 1975, with the American embassy staff in Saigon being evacuated by helicopter.

War is a system, a system with its own inner mechanism that is not controlled by those who first set it in motion. History's lessons are clear on this.

My colleague's bill seeks to require that a motion be moved in the House before each foreign mission that includes or might include an offensive facet.

I would like to remind the House that during the two global conflicts Canada was involved in, the House was able to make its opinion known. It was not with a motion, as my colleague's bill proposes, but rather as part of the throne speech, which outlined the measures that the government wished to take.

So even when world political issues were looming large, Parliament took the time to consider the implications of offensive military action.

Despite these two historic votes, nothing obliged the governments at the time to call on Parliament.

Today the Bloc Québécois is using principles and precedence to argue that, for each foreign mission, the minister should table a motion for ratification of the declaration of intention to place the Canadian Forces on active service before the House of Commons.

I hope that all of my colleagues, from each of the parties represented in this House, will understand the important issue raised by this bill and that they will support it without hesitation.

National Defence ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate today.

The bill before us proposes significant changes to the way cabinet exercises one of its most important responsibilities, which is deploying troops as part of foreign military missions.

I am opposed to Bill C-513. The fact remains that the process we currently use to deploy our troops internationally works well.

As the parliamentary secretary said earlier, the current process helps ensure parliamentary transparency and oversight. There is nothing worse than taking something that is working well and making meaningless changes.

Aside from the fact that the bill does not recognize the extensive parliamentary oversight that currently exists as part of the government's commitment to hold a debate in the House on deployments of the Canadian Forces, this bill is rife with serious technical problems.

The bill requires that the House be summoned after prorogation, or even when Parliament has been dissolved. If we take the example of Parliament being dissolved, the main technical problems with the bill become very evident. The bill does not clearly state whether to summon the Parliament that was dissolved or the newly elected Parliament.

Another problem is the issue of active service, which my colleague also raised. I cannot overstate how wrong it is to assume that the Canadian Forces have to be placed on active service in order to be deployed abroad. That incorrect hypothesis has been made in Bill C-513.

As my colleague pointed out, and now is a good time to repeat it, placing members of the Canadian Forces on active service enables the Canadian Forces to keep troops on service as needed and enables military tribunals to impose various sentences for a number of military offences. That is why we do not really understand why the opposition member has introduced a bill that ties an active service designation to Canada's participation in a foreign mission.

It is important to point out that the Canadian Forces' regular forces are on active service as per Order in Council 1989-583, April 6, 1989. In fact, all members of the reserves serving outside Canada are on active service.

Before continuing the debate, I want to remind the members of the House about the essential work that our troops are doing on overseas missions, on which they have been responsibly and appropriately deployed by the government, using the existing process.

The Canadian Forces are currently deployed to 16 foreign missions on four continents: Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. Over 2,900 soldiers, sailors and Canadian air force members are currently deployed to international operations. In addition to those already deployed, some 5,000 troops are preparing to participate in overseas missions or are on their way back here.

Our country has taken on an enormous commitment to support peace and security around the world and to promote Canadian values, such as freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

If Bill C-513 were passed, it would diminish Canada's ability to be a world leader. Why? Because the bill would require us to determine each facet of the mission quickly and precisely. To know such things, one would have to have a crystal ball.

Our troops participate in all kinds of missions around the world, humanitarian aid missions, peacekeeping missions, combat missions, interdiction operations and state building missions.

When it comes right down to it, foreign missions in which the Canadian Forces participate sometimes defy such simple classification.

Current threats and concerns pertaining to security are often multi-faceted and modern military missions dealing with them can be very complex. Often, they entail more than one type of operational activity at the same time. And most of the time, not only do they involve military personnel but they also require partnerships with military forces, governments and various organizations.

That is the case in Afghanistan, where Canada is taking part in a UN sanctioned mission under the direction of NATO and in collaboration with the democratically elected government of that country. The purpose of our mission is to help the Afghan people rebuild their country and establish a stable, democratic and self-sufficient society.

Consequently, the mission encompasses several types of operations. The country must be rebuilt. To attain this objective, our armed forces, in cooperation with allied forces in Afghanistan, help to provide the security needed to create an environment for reconstruction and progress.

The mission in Afghanistan also has a humanitarian component. It is helping to bring back five million refugees. It is making remarkable improvements in the physical health and the human rights of the Afghan people. It is helping them to build an infrastructure and an economy that were completely destroyed by the Taliban, leaving most Afghan citizens suffering from unimaginable poverty, hardship and suffering.

Canadian Forces personnel on the ground are working with our military allies to drive back those creating instability and violence and also with the departments and organizations of the Canadian government engaged in a whole-of-government approach.

This close cooperation between military and civilian institutions within Canada's mission and the entire NATO operation constitutes a new kind of mission. How would Bill C-513 classify that kind of mission? The answer is that this bill cannot classify this mission, because has been conceived in such a way as to meet the specific needs in Afghanistan and because it is constantly changing, for the same reason.

Bill C-513's attempt to define the offensive facets of military missions whose rules of engagement are not limited to the use of force for defence purposes, whether for the Canadian mission, the population or people placed under its protection, is gross oversimplification.

Some overseas missions in which Canadian Forces personnel are participating are of the same kind that became familiar to Canadians of the previous generation.

Some of them are what we could call classic peacekeeping operations, most of which have been going on for quite a long time. For instance, in the Sinai Peninsula, an Canadian air traffic control unit is contributing to the multinational mission to oversee the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, which was concluded decades ago.

And this is not the only example of the Canadian Forces contributing to the implementation of a major peace initiative. Elsewhere, in the Middle East, the Canadian Forces are participating in the UN's Operation GLADIUS, to oversee the cease-fire agreement between Israel and Syria, which was reached at the end of the Yom Kippur war.

In closing, the bill before us today does nothing to improve existing legislation. It takes a course of action that is working and tries to replace it in a futile, harmful way. It creates confusion and misunderstanding of the current system.

For all these reasons, I urge the House of Commons to vote against this bill.

National Defence ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Compton—Stanstead for the wonderful speech she delivered earlier in favour of this bill. Once again, I invite all of my colleagues to reconsider their position—in particular, those who have declared that they will vote against the bill—to change their minds and vote in favour of this bill.

I believe that every person here is morally responsible any time our troops are sent abroad on an offensive mission. It is critical that the House be involved in making these decisions each time Canada wants to go to war. We cannot leave it up to the government's whim. We must entrench the government's obligation to obtain the consent of the House before deploying troops abroad in the National Defence Act. As I said, this applies to offensive missions only.

Unlike what my Conservative and Liberal colleagues said, if this bill is passed, the government will still be able to deploy troops in case of an emergency. It is not true that the government's hands are tied. This bill provides for some exemptions related to emergency situations. However, if some members still have concerns, I urge them to vote in favour of Bill C-513 anyway so that the bill can at least be amended in committee. It is very simple. The bill at least needs to be debated in committee.

War is not child's play. We are not playing with toy soldiers here. War is something serious, something fundamental in the life of a people. And I would like to say that in war, there are no winners. There is never a winner. There are only losers. The winner is usually considered to be the one who loses the least. So war is very important. It is not something minor. We are not voting on bills that, as my colleague mentioned, deal with small amounts of money. Aside from the fact that millions and millions of dollars are being invested—just look at Afghanistan—we have blood on our hands. We must never forget that.

When a government decides to go to war against another country, everyone in this House is responsible for the blood that will be shed there. Unfortunately, we cannot even decide on that, but we have the moral responsibility to bear that burden, and that is unacceptable.

In conclusion, Bill C-513 will enable Canada to show the world that democracy is not just a word; it is something that plays a role in all aspects of our institutions, as well as in the decision to go to war.

National Defence ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

National Defence ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

National Defence ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

National Defence ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

National Defence ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

National Defence ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

National Defence ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, June 18, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am please to speak tonight following a question I asked some time ago.

The reason for my question is that there has been much comparison made between our Prime Minister and President George W. Bush. I understand and I share much of that concern.

However, it has occurred to me in the last little while that it is a different president that our Prime Minister most closely resembles and that president was Richard Nixon.

Richard Nixon did some good things. He opened up relations with China, for example, but his reputation was clouded by a constant and gnawing paranoia, a belief that everybody was out to get him, political opponents, media, academics, peace activists. He became paralyzed by this arrogant need to shut them down. He created his famous enemies list, which included such dangerous people as Paul Newman and Mickey Mouse. He shut them down.

That is what I would suggest that our Prime Minister is doing today when we look at the people and the organizations that he cannot stomach and that he shuts down, fires or forces out. It is quite a list: Bernard Shapiro, the Ethics Commissioner; Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Chief Electoral Officer; John Reid, Information Commissioner; Yves Côté, ombudsman, National Defence; Art Carty, national science advisor; Linda Keen, president of the Nuclear Safety Commission; Adrian Measner, president of the Wheat Board; Johanne Gélinas, Environment Commissioner; Yves Le Bouthillier, president of the Law Commission; and even Mark Warner and Brent Barr, former Conservative candidates who did not tow the line and were forced out.

It is not just people. The first enemy on the Prime Minister's hit list was the truth. Not only does the Prime Minister get rid of any public servant who does not tow the Conservative Party line, he does whatever will benefit him politically, instead of acting in the best interests of Canadians.

He offered “financial incentives” to Chuck Cadman, his words. He orders parliamentary committees to be filibustered so they become non-functional. He refuses to admit that he made an error when he said that the recent affair of the former minister of foreign affairs was a private matter. He released paranoid attack ads on the Leader of the Opposition's yet to be released carbon shift plan.

That caught the attention of a number of people last week, not the least of whom was Dan Gardner who wrote in the paper, I think yesterday, about that. He says, among his other comments, “In pseudo-populism, every politician but the pseudo-populist ”, and that would be the Prime Minister, “is a liar, every expert a fool, every tax unfair. There are no trade-offs required, no sacrifice demanded”.

He ends this line by saying, “The Prime Minister is Richard Nixon on a bad day”.

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member is sufficiently experienced in the House to know that he cannot do indirectly what he cannot do directly. Calling a specific member of the House what he did is unparliamentary and I will ask him to withdraw.

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

I did not refer specifically to the Prime Minister, Mr. Speaker. I was quoting “the pseudo populace” as opposed to--

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

You cannot do indirectly what you cannot do directly.

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

I will withdraw that comment, Mr. Speaker.

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader.

6:15 p.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, it must be getting close to election time, because it seems that my hon. colleague and the rest of his colleagues on the opposition benches are reverting to a tried and true Liberal attack line of questioning. They try to equate anyone they oppose with particular U.S. presidents. We have seen that before. Time and time again they have tried to equate Conservative members, prime ministers, and opposition leaders when we were in opposition, with George Bush, Ronald Reagan or, in this case, the late Richard Nixon, in an attempt to stir up emotions and anti-Yankee sentiments among Canadians. I find that shameful. We should be talking about substantive issues, policy issues, like the Liberals' carbon tax. Do they do that? No, they revert to drive-by smear campaigns, innuendoes, unprecedented attacks on character. We have seen that both inside and outside of this place.

I want to speak just for a moment on why this Prime Minister is standing tall among not only colleagues in this House but among the memories of former prime ministers.

I would remind my hon. colleague that for the first time in over 100 years, a prime minister stood and apologized for the atrocities of the residential schools. The hon. member and his Liberal Party colleagues had 13 years in government. They knew the issues. They knew the problems, but did any of their prime ministers stand and apologize? Absolutely not. That speaks to the integrity this Prime Minister has and the concern that this Prime Minister has for not only average Canadians but for oppressed minorities.

I would also point out that it was this Prime Minister who apologized for the Chinese head tax. Once again, my colleague and the rest of his party had 13 long dark years in which they could have enacted the same apology. Did they do so? No.

When it comes to talking about integrity, honesty, accountability and transparency, this Prime Minister stands alone.

I would point out to the hon. member that it is this Prime Minister who brought the Federal Accountability Act to this Parliament.

I would also point out to my hon. colleague that it is this Prime Minister who engaged in a practice of reducing taxes for average Canadians rather than increasing taxes. In fact, it was this Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance who, last fall had the prescience to understand, with an impending global economic slowdown, that the proper course of action was to reduce taxes at both the personal and corporate levels to get ahead of the curve to avoid not only a slowdown but a recession, the type of which we see south of the border. Every economist in Canada and throughout the world applauded the Prime Minister for not only his corrective action but his timely action.

Once again I would suggest to my hon. colleagues that this Prime Minister is going to be the Prime Minister of Canada for a very long time and for very good reasons.

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary referred to the apology the Prime Minister made yesterday. We all shared in that. However, the Prime Minister of the country had a chance today to stand in his place and denounce the outrageous comments made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board. He refused to do this.

This is a prime minister who divides Canadians between an A list and a B list. The ones he likes, he takes care of. The ones that he does not like, although they may be independent, he gets rid of. It is documented. These are not attacks. This is a repetition of facts that all Canadians know about. In the next election, Canadians will have an opportunity to pass judgment on what kind of prime minister they want to have. They do not want another prime minister Nixon.

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have to admit it is almost laughable when I hear the hon. member say that our Prime Minister is one who responds to favourites, who curries favour. Let me point out the contradiction in the member's words.

It was the former Liberal administration that had the mother of all patronage programs, and it was called the sponsorship scandal. Friends of the Liberal Party were rewarded with millions of dollars of taxpayers' money, which finally resulted in the largest political scandal in Canadian parliamentary history. That is the essence of the Liberal Party. When it comes to rewarding friends, whether it be to appoint them to the Senate or whether it be to reward them financially through scandals like the sponsorship program, that member and all of his colleagues should really take a long, hard look in the mirror before they make any accusations.

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, on April 18, I asked the Minister of Indian Affairs why his government was not honouring the Kelowna accord. I also noted the government's broken promise, which the Prime Minister made himself, concerning the residential school at Île-à-la-Crosse. The parliamentary secretary's response was not at all satisfactory.

The same can be said of the government's approach to aboriginal issues generally. Even yesterday, as the House had one of the most extraordinary sittings in the history of this Parliament, the member for Nepean—Carleton made truly regrettable remarks on the public airwaves. I recognize that he has apologized to the House and to all Canadians. Still, it is worrisome that old political attitudes on aboriginal issues are still around.

I mentioned the apology that was given yesterday, which was reinforced by all party leaders, and forcefully so by my own leader. It was graciously responded to by the leaders and elders assembled here yesterday.

At the same time, I think of the situation in my own riding, where there is now a class action lawsuit involving former dormitory schools. There is a real need for resolution on that issue by the institutions and government agencies involved.

In Labrador we still have outstanding land claims. The government has tried to muddy the waters by talking about specific claims, which are also important, but the fact remains that there are comprehensive claims still to be resolved.

The Labrador Métis Nation claim has still not been accepted, despite the findings of the royal commission almost two decades ago and despite important recent court victories.

The Innu Nation claim and self-government negotiations are still unresolved. There are overlapping claims in Labrador by the other umbrella organizations of the Innu and the question of Labrador aboriginal rights on the Quebec side. The situation is complicated, but it can find resolution.

It has been convenient for the Conservatives to coast on the progress made by the previous Liberal government, as they did on the Labrador Inuit agreement or the establishment of reserves for the Innu communities in Labrador. However, that side of the House has made no real progress of its own in Labrador.

We still have substantial social issues to tackle, such as health, housing, social services, and education. The Kelowna accord would have made a real difference if the Conservatives had not ripped it up.

I know the other side is fond of misleading the public and falsely claiming that Kelowna was nothing more than a press release. It was certainly more substantial than the defence plan, which no one has seen and which has been such a disappointment in Labrador and around the country.

In fact, Kelowna was a signed agreement with every province and territory, with aboriginal leaders on board. It was budgeted under our former Prime Minister, the member for LaSalle—Émard, whose commitment to aboriginal peoples should be doubted by no one, and then it was shamefully scrapped.

Kelowna would have made a real difference. It would have helped to implement the healing strategy to build on the residential schools apology. It would have made a real difference in Labrador and throughout northern and aboriginal Canada.

When is the government going to implement the Kelowna accord, which will come into law possibly this week, and build on the apology that was made in the House yesterday?

6:25 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the member for Labrador, although I find it somewhat ironic in light of the fact that he states in his question that he felt my answer to him in the House of Commons, on which this adjournment proceeding is based, was inadequate. In fact, I do recall that answer. I spent the entire answer actually complimenting him for taking part in a sealing expedition in his riding. Therefore, I find it ironic that we would be having this proceeding on that answer in particular.

However, I also must call into question some of the facts that he has put on the record or that he claims to be on the record. One was that every province in Canada signed the Kelowna accord. He knows that not to be true. I know that he knows this, because he sat on the aboriginal affairs committee with me for the last few years and it of course was not reality.

His party ran on the Kelowna proposal. Our party did not. We chose to go a different path, a path that is about innovation, improvement to the system and actually accomplishing tangible things, versus some of the esoteric promises that have been made by previous administrations.

Yesterday was a great example of a tangible thing that has happened under our government. The Prime Minister of Canada is the first prime minister in history to stand in the House and apologize for what we all agree was a shameful era in Canadian history.

Also, today another apology was made. I would hope that the member opposite would also accept that apology made by the member for Nepean—Carleton.

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have said in this House that I honour the words that were said at the formal apology but there is much more that must be done. It is not right or just, in my view, for the parliamentary secretary or his party to throw away and do away with all the work and all the commitments that Kelowna embodied. It was real, it was a plan and it would have put meat on the bones. It is more than just words, it is about actions.

If we are going to ensure that the apology is sincere, it must be met with action. Every aboriginal leader who spoke in response to the apology said that we must have action to close the gap, to talk about health care, education--

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, one thing that the member and I can agree on is the fact that yesterday was an important historic moment in Canadian history where aboriginal leaders stood in this House and accepted a very heartfelt apology not only by the Prime Minister but by other leaders in this House.

Yesterday represents a true moment in Canadian history where we can work together, both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people. In fact, National Chief Phil Fontaine said it very well when he said that first nations people are an inextricable part of the Canadian identity. That statement really means a lot to me and I know all members in this House appreciated the words that he stated on the floor of the House of Commons.