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House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was report.

Topics

Middle EastStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commend a constituent who, in her unselfish acts and--

Middle EastStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

You are better than that, Jim. You should be a leader, Jim.

Middle EastStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, I am not sure why I am standing at all, given--

Middle EastStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Middle EastStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Windsor--Tecumseh has the floor. Order, please. The hon. member for Windsor--Tecumseh. No?

The hon. member for Burlington.

Credit and Debit Card IndustryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the small business sector is Canada's biggest employer and it is the engine of Canada's economy.

Recently, small businesses expressed concern with the conduct of credit and debit card providers. Today we introduced a proposed code of conduct for the credit and debit card industry for consultation. The measures will help ensure that the credit and debit card industry is accountable.

This is what the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the voice of small business in Canada, said about it:

Today's announcement...constitutes an important step and is timely as we enter the holiday season that is so vital to so many retailers, especially coming out of a recession. We are particularly pleased that government is being proactive.... These developments will create a better future for merchants and help ensure a fair and transparent credit and debit market instead of just letting large industry players call all the shots.

We agree with the CFIB.

Pay EquityStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the 2009 federal budget had very little to offer in terms of policies to help women. Once again, the Conservative government missed an excellent opportunity to deal with the issue of pay equity once and for all. Instead, it is still putting women at a disadvantage by making pay equity a negotiable right.

Women working for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada received a $4,000 lump sum payment for pay equity compensation in 2007, but those working for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency were excluded because they were employed by a federal agency. Is that what pay equity is supposed to mean?

In my riding, Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, 30 people work for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and 27 of them are women who are still victims of injustice and discrimination.

The Bloc Québécois will continue to fight for truly proactive pay equity legislation.

IsraelStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Dryden Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, virtually every Canadian knows the story of Israel, virtually every Canadian knows about the Holocaust and virtually every Canadian strongly supports the safety, security and sustainability of Israel.

What the Prime Minister has done routinely and repeatedly in recent years is to create division where none has existed. By trying to set himself up as the champion of Israel, he has pushed those who feel no less strongly to the other side of his divide, to those who are, in his words, not friends of Israel.

By focusing debate on himself, not on our deep and fundamental support for Israel, he has created doubt about and doubt in those who feel just as strongly. In doing so, he has weakened support for Israel across the country.

By seeking his own political advantage, he has acted not only to be destructive of his political opponents, he has weakened support for the community he purports to stand up for. That is not right. That is offensive.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, during the current global downturn, one thing has become crystal clear: Canada's economy is holding up better than most and we are leading the global recovery.

Today's OECD economic report confirms that. Now while the global recovery is fragile and tentative, Canada is among the strongest in the G7 in terms of GDP growth for next year, and we will lead the G7 in growth in 2011. The OECD also notes that our Conservative government's action plan, especially our infrastructure and home renovation tax benefit, is helping fuel the recovery.

We cannot be distracted. We need to stay the course. We need to focus on the economy and fully implement Canada's action plan. That is what the OECD is recommending and that is precisely what this Conservative government is doing.

We are fighting the recession, while the Liberal leader and his party vote time and time again against the recovery and for an election. This shows clearly and sadly that they are not in it for Canadians; they are in it for themselves.

AfghanistanOral Questions

November 19th, 2009 / 2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the testimony yesterday of Richard Colvin before the Afghanistan committee showed two clear things. First, Mr. Colvin testified that he had information with respect to the mistreatment of prisoners in Afghan prisons and that he gave that information to his superiors. Second, Mr. Colvin testified that he was also told by his superiors to shut up, essentially.

Given the importance of these two revelations, the revelations of mistreatment, harsh treatment and even torture, and the revelation with respect to a cover-up, would the minister not agree with me and with others that there should indeed be a full public inquiry into what has taken place with respect to the transfer of these detainees?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, it has been stated here a number of times that there has not been a single, solitary proven allegation of abuse involving a transferred Taliban prisoner by Canadian Forces. Second, with respect to the evidence yesterday, what we know is that when the evidence is put to the test, it simply does not stand up.

Mr. Colvin had an opportunity to speak directly to me and other ministers of the government who were in Afghanistan. He did not raise the issue. As well, what is being relied upon here is nothing short of hearsay, second- or third-hand information, or that which came directly from the Taliban.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is not the case. Instead of attacking the problem, the government is attacking Mr. Colvin. It is reprehensible of the government to do so.

Mr. Colvin's testimony was very clear. He had important information on the mistreatment of the detainees and the government told him to keep mum.

Given the importance of these two revelations to Canada's reputation, why not launch a public inquiry into what happened?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. Nobody is attacking the individual. What we are attacking here is the importance of the credibility of information that the Canadian public and a parliamentary inquiry is being asked to accept. That is what is at stake here.

I think that even the hon. member, who purports to be a lawyer, does know a little bit about due process. This is evidence that is being asked to be accepted without question. It is based on second- and third-hand information and Taliban information.

These are very serious allegations. They deserve very serious scrutiny and frankly, they are not credible.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that foreign intelligence agencies are run by the Taliban. I am not sure that the humanitarian agencies in Kabul are run by the Taliban. These are all the sources and people that Mr. Colvin cited yesterday in terms of dealing with this question.

I hope the minister would understand that the importance of having a public inquiry is in fact to deal with a very simple problem that has now been created. It is very difficult for Canada to have integrity and consistency in talking to Tehran and Beijing if in fact we find that officials, Canadian officials and Canadian ministers, refused to listen to hard information with respect to—

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, in addition to the suspect source of the information upon which the hon. member would have us all rely, it is interesting to note that Mr. Colvin could not even say that the Taliban prisoners that he himself interviewed were in fact those who were transferred by Canadian troops.

Mr. Colvin cannot even say that the source on which he based much of his testimony yesterday actually came from those who were transferred by Canadian Forces. We are being asked to accept testimony from people who throw acid in the faces of schoolchildren and who blow up buses of civilians in their own country. I will not accept that testimony. I am surprised that he would.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, it does not behoove the minister of the Crown to attack the credibility of a career public civil servant who is risking it all in the name of Canadian values.

The government knew way back in May 2006 of the massive and systematic cover-up of torture by the Afghan authorities. The fact is that the national security adviser to the Prime Minister knew. The fact is that the Prime Minister's own deputy minister of all Afghanistan knew of the torture and its cover-up.

It is inconceivable that the Prime Minister did not know. The—

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of National Defence.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, let us take it out of the realm of politics. Let us take it into the realm of a quote from a senior former diplomat in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Paul Chapin. Here is what he had to say yesterday about the testimony: “I think what set me back is how serious the allegations are and how flimsy the evidence is”. He goes on to say: “It would have been rather more reassuring had he been able to provide some of the detail that would give credibility to these very serious allegations”.

This is from a senior member of the foreign service who casts doubt on the credibility of the testimony we heard yesterday.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's national security adviser and his deputy minister for all of Afghanistan knew about the torture allegations and the cover-up. The PMO knew. The PCO knew. It is unthinkable that the Prime Minister and his ministers did not know. Wilful blindness is cover-up, too. Deliberately induced ignorance is cover-up, too.

The honour of Canada demands a judicial public inquiry. Would the government have the courage to call one?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, what is interesting is that members opposite clearly have no faith in the parliamentary process itself because they are calling for another process to get under way in addition to the Military Police Complaints Commission, which is also under way. We did not shut it down; the chair shut it down.

If the hon. member really wants to feign indignation, point the finger, and make this a political issue, he is free to do so on the floor of the House of Commons. But when it comes to the work that is being done in committees, in judicial inquiries, and in the work of the police commission, we have to have facts, truth, evidence and rules of procedure.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, diplomat Richard Colvin swore under oath that he reported allegations of torture against Afghan detainees in 18 reports sent to Rick Hillier, the then chief of defence staff, and David Mulroney, the Prime Minister's defence adviser at the Privy Council. According to Mr. Colvin, in March 2007, the government strongly urged him not to put information about Afghan detainees on paper.

Does this not prove that the Prime Minister wanted to bury the whole affair, since it had to do with war crimes?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, our government has been transparent on the issue of Afghanistan. We have made disclosures with respect to investments that we made, particularly on the human rights issue.

When it comes to the prisoners and the treatment of Taliban prisoners, when it comes to their justice system, we have invested over $132 million to improve that system.

I am very proud of the fact that we have dedicated soldiers, civil servants, and individuals who are working closely with the government of Afghanistan, as challenging as that is, to see that we improve its capacity. We will continue to do so.

That is the real work that is being done. This is a witch hunt.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, they are denying that were any reports when 18 reports were sent to the Privy Council. We know that the Prime Minister has very tight control over information. Everything is centralized in his office, which makes all the decisions. And they would have us believe that he was not aware of such reports at the Privy Council. That does not hold up.

Will the Prime Minister and his minister admit that this defence does not hold up and that they are trying every which way to hide the truth from us?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Again, Mr. Speaker, here is the truth.

We inherited an inadequate transfer arrangement. We inherited a situation that was very difficult with respect to the handling of Taliban prisoners. We acted on advice from a number of diplomats, including the ambassador. We invested important resources into improving Afghanistan's justice system, improving its penal system, and ensuring that it had the proper training for the handling of individuals.

That is action. That is appropriate. That is credible. That is what we have done. To suggest that every single Taliban prisoner was tortured is not credible.