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House of Commons Hansard #114 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was region.

Topics

National SecurityOral 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 government took action some time ago in a serious fashion by having the Department of Foreign Affairs commence a review, together with the support of the agency's it has.

In terms of unanswered questions piling up, I know the member really is interested in who Madam Couillard has been sleeping with because that is what he told the Ottawa Citizen and CBC's The National.

That is not the kind of question piling up that we think the public wants to spend a lot resources getting to the bottom of.

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we are going from Mom Boucher to Mom Couillard, but we should really be talking about Ms. Bellemare.

The Couillard web is a wide one: the Department of Foreign Affairs, Transport, Public Works and Government Services. Now, it is the turn of the Department of Human Resources. Actually, it is the turn of the Quebec lieutenant and Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, who is responsible for giving his approval to the Prime Minister for any political appointments in Quebec.

My question is simple. Why did the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and Quebec lieutenant agree to the appointment of Julie Couillard's mother as chairperson of the Board of Referees in the Saint-Jérôme region?

Government AppointmentsOral 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, when someone seeks employment with the Employment Insurance Board of Referees as an EI chairperson, the person is interviewed by officials at the Department of Human Resources. Those are public servants who conduct that review.

In the process of that review, to determine if a person is qualified, the person is examined on his or her knowledge of the employment insurance system and the geographic area he or she will be dealing with.

In addition, we as a government look at the persons's background. In the case of Ms. Bellemare, she has a good professional background having worked for the St-Jérôme hospital foundation, the St-Eustace Hospital foundation and--

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Bourassa.

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, if I understand correctly, through her relationship with the Conservatives, Julie Couillard not only took advantage of Max, she took advantage to the max. That is the problem: attempts to infiltrate, possible influence peddling, access to secret documents, interest in airport security, appointment of Julie Couillard's mother, and it does not stop there.

Who in this government will confirm that the Prime Minister's Office was aware that the member for Beauce spoke to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, and that the former foreign affairs minister was there when Ms. Bellemare's name was put forward to cabinet? We want some answers, please.

Government AppointmentsOral 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, as I indicated, in making these appointments the government seeks to appoint only qualified individuals.

In the case of Madam Bellemare, I have spoken a little bit about her work with the St. Jérôme hospital and St-Eustache Hospital foundations. She also worked with the Fondation de l'Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal.

She was found acceptable by the Human Resources public servants who examined and spoke to her about her background and understanding of the employment insurance system and her understanding of the geographic area of St. Jérôme. On that basis, her appointment was recommended and ultimately made.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the big prison break at the Sarpoza prison in Kandahar greatly undermines the Afghans' trust toward NATO and the government it supports. On February 18, 2007, two officials from the Correctional Service of Canada posted in Kandahar warned Ottawa of the risk, and I quote from the report, “It is recommended that our first priority be to secure the perimeter of the institution”. The result: nothing was done.

Does the Prime Minister realize that his negligence and his improvisation is putting lives at risk today? Canadian troops and Afghan civilians are threatened by this—

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, with respect, I do not think the hon. member is somehow suggesting that a suicide bomb attack, where explosives were placed on a fuel truck, could have been prevented in any way by having a thicker wall at the prison.

Since the fall of 2007, we have helped the Afghan authorities, where the Afghans were running this particular facility, to construct a perimeter of watch towers, exterior security lighting and strengthening the infrastructure.

Those were investments and efforts that were made by the Canadian government, working with the Afghans who were running this facility.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, that could have been avoided if the minister had had proper information services, but he did not.

On another note, the Afghan mission cannot succeed if we do not win the hearts of the Afghan people and the public. We learn from the mouth of a Canadian chaplain that officers tell Canadian soldiers to ignore sexual assaults committed by the Afghan army against the public. That does not make sense. By closing our eyes, Canada becomes an accomplice to those crimes.

Is that a new way of winning the hearts of the Afghans?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely false. The hon. member's statement is absolutely false.

We are in Afghanistan to help promote human rights and protect individuals. That is why we are investing in programs, with immunization and health care. Any suggestion that Canadian soldiers would deliberately turn a blind eye to assaults like this are abhorrent and should not be raised on the floor of the House of Commons.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

June 17th, 2008 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to Nature Québec representatives, the international joint commission's new water level management plan could have dire consequences for the St. Lawrence River and cause the disappearance of Lac Saint-Pierre, which UNESCO has designated as a biosphere reserve.

Can the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell us if the government intends to support this new plan?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Kingsway B.C.

Conservative

David Emerson ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we are looking forward to receiving this plan. We understand the IJC has consultations under way and we would like to see those consultations completed. When receive its report, we will respond appropriately.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the approval order refers to benefits for Lake Ontario, while offering no guarantees for the St. Lawrence River or Quebec's interests. In the name of fairness, benefits must be guaranteed both upstream and downstream from the dam.

Does the minister intend to register his opposition if the commission goes ahead with the new order?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Vancouver Kingsway B.C.

Conservative

David Emerson ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I said, we are looking forward to receiving the report from the IJC. We are looking forward to the completion of consultations. Whatever we do will be in the national interest.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, over a year ago, Correctional Service Canada informed the Conservative government about the deficiencies in security at Sarpoza prison, the first priority being to secure the perimeter of the institution.

The government had more than ample warning and failed to respond to these warnings by its own officials. It failed our soldiers, it failed Afghans and it failed Canadians.

Why was there a lack of intelligence? Is this the government's version of catch and release?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, first, this is a very serious incident. I do not think the hon. member should make light of it with his puns. This is an after the fact prognosis now by the member opposite. The Canadian government has invested in all kinds of infrastructure, including at the Sarpoza prison.

Since this incident, we are working with the Afghans, not only to secure a cordon on the area, but also to recapture fighters and to see that this facility is rebuilt so the Afghan government and the Afghan security forces can continue to raise their ability and their capacity to provide security to their population.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, what is shameful is the government knew about it since February 2007 and did nothing. It put our soldiers at risk and for that, it is held accountable.

This is a devastating setback for the Afghan government and for our NATO mission. Rather than respond effectively, the government has ignored, and continues to ignore, the legitimate questions on this side of the House regarding the detention of Taliban prisoners.

What concrete steps is the government going to take to ensure that the work our soldiers are doing is not in vain?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by thanking the hon. member for his support for the extension of the mission, the transformation that involves investment in infrastructure and the excellent programming work that is being done by CIDA.

Our efforts include the efforts of Correctional Service Canada to raise the capacity of the Afghan officials of the Afghan prison to treat and ensure that Afghan prisoners are treated humanely and to continue to ensure they live up to international standards. We are there to help that country improve its capacity to provide security and to protect its sovereignty for the future.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, Corporal Travis Scouten, a Canadian soldier who served in Afghanistan, tells us a shocking story. He talks about sexual assaults committed by Afghan soldiers against civilians and the Canadian Forces' inability to intervene.

This is not a matter of partisan politics. We have a responsibility towards the Afghan people and our soldiers cannot stand idly by while such atrocities are committed.

Is the government taking these allegations seriously? Will the government take action?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Certainly, Mr. Speaker. This is a very serious matter and these are very serious allegations.

However, let us be clear that in no way, shape or form have Canadian soldiers or the Canadian government ever condoned or excused allegations of sexual abuse against children in our country or anywhere else.

Let us be clear about something else. Let us for once just show a modicum of respect for the timeframe that it takes to investigate and look into serious allegations such as this. Let us not cast aspersions without doing a little research into the facts first.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, no talking about his responsibilities.

This House has every reason to be concerned about this government's reliability. When there were allegations of torture concerning Afghan detainees, the government remained silent.

Following these new allegations of sexual assault, can the government assure this House that these tragic incidents will be taken seriously and not swept under the rug?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, our government is taking these allegations very seriously.

Let us be honest. The previous allegation about abuse was in fact revealed on the floor of the House of Commons by this government. Therefore, let us again put facts before fiction and rhetoric.

We are absolutely committed to looking into these matters. I met again with leaders of the Canadian Forces, the Chief of the Land Staff, to see that we do a complete forensic examination of all evidence, to look into all these allegations and get to the bottom of it.

That is the difference between simply pointing the finger and doing something about it.

AgricultureOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, today more Liberal MPs admitted that their leader's regressive carbon tax plan would crush family farms. This morning at the agriculture committee three Liberal members followed this government's lead and only one blindly followed his leader. This tax would destroy jobs, increase the home heating costs, electricity and gasoline.

Could the agriculture minister tell the House how the Liberal leader's plan for this new massive carbon tax would also affect farmers in my riding and across Canada?

AgricultureOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, today we were treated to the sight of Liberals scurrying for cover at the agriculture committee.

As the House knows, farm fuel, fertilizer, chemical and transportation costs would go through the roof if the Liberal leadership were ever given a chance to implement its tax.

Unlike the NDP, Canadian producers will never be fooled into accepting or supporting a Liberal carbon tax.