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House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was self-employed.

Topics

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, let us be perfectly clear, the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan with members from all parties in this House is conducting a significant amount of meetings on this issue. The Military Police Complaints Commission is currently looking into the matter.

The issue of transferring Taliban prisoners has been heard not once but twice at the Federal Court here in Ottawa. It has been examined by the Supreme Court, who declined to hear the case. It has been the subject of a Canadian Forces National Investigation Service review. It has been the subject of an RCMP review, and a CF board of inquiry investigation has been conducted.

I should remind the House and the Leader of the Opposition that there have been no proven allegations of abuse of Canadian-transferred prisoners.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the government fails to realize that Canadian Forces may face this situation with detainees in the future.

Once and for all, it would be good to have a judge investigate this with national security clearance and access to documents that are uncensored and unredacted, for the benefit of the Canadian Forces and our honour overseas, so we can get to the bottom of this. This is what Parliament proposed yesterday, involving both the previous Liberal government and this one.

I fail to understand why the government cannot accede to the reasonable request of Parliament.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I will say to the Leader of the Opposition who brings honour and respect to Canada, and that is each and every one of the men and women in uniform, who are doing an absolutely outstanding job.

The speech last night by President Obama and the changes taking place in Kandahar and southern Afghanistan speak volumes to the credibility and trust and confidence that our allies have for the men and women in uniform.

We have always been very, very clear. Whenever this government has gotten credible evidence, we have acted, but we require proven, substantiated and credible evidence to act. That has always been the policy of this government.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Environment has told us time and time again that Canada will speak with one voice in Copenhagen. This means that the minister will be contradicting Quebec, which has adopted a real plan to combat climate change, with ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets, while Canada does not even have a plan.

Does the minister realize that by having Canada speak with one voice in Copenhagen, he will not only be contradicting Quebec, but hurting it?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Environment held intensive consultations last summer, and one of the first provinces that was consulted was Quebec, through Premier Jean Charest. We now know that the people appointed by the Government of Quebec will form an integral part of the Canadian delegation.

Quebec is making a significant contribution. We recognize Quebec's support, and I can say that our provincial counterparts are very happy to be an integral part of the Canadian delegation.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, they are so happy that Quebec's environment minister condemned Ottawa this morning. That is complete and utter happiness.

In December 2005, the Prime Minister said: “I am ready to discuss mechanisms to enable the provinces to extend their jurisdictions on the international scene.”

How can the Prime Minister, who recognized the Quebec nation and even said he agreed with the idea of having Quebec speak with its own voice on the international scene, go to Copenhagen and present a position that is in total contradiction to Quebec's proposed approach to combatting climate change?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, it is ironic to see the leader of the Bloc Québécois talk about a federalism that works, when we know his goal is to destroy that federalism. We have a solution. The representatives of the Government of Quebec are an integral part of the Canadian delegation. In addition, in 2007, the federal government transferred $350 million to Quebec, which Premier Charest himself said would help the province meet its targets. We do not need to be lectured. We have shown that we have solutions that work, such as our solution in the case of UNESCO.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec minister Line Beauchamp reacted strongly yesterday to the publication of the unfair sharing of the burden of reducing greenhouse gases being proposed by Ottawa: “It is obvious that...Quebec's aspirations must not be used to give other provinces a free ride and increase their own emissions.”

Can the Minister of the Environment confirm that the efforts made by Quebec companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions will not allow Alberta to shirk its responsibilities and increase its emissions with impunity?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I met with Line Beauchamp and we discussed this matter. Our policy is simple, to enter into an agreement with the major emitters in Copenhagen and to harmonize our targets and regulations with our partner, the United States, while establishing a carbon trading system.

President Obama announced a reduction target of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. We will make the necessary adjustments to have the same target.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Environment is making a mistake by pitting the economy against the environment. The proof is that Quebec is determined to reconcile the two. In case the minister does not know it, we call that sustainable development.

Does the minister recognize that what is irreconcilable is the economy of Quebec, which has chosen sustainable development and green energy, and Canada's traditional economic interests based on oil and the automobile? That is truly irreconcilable.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, that is not the case. We have to develop a sustainable economy. Yvo de Boer, of the United Nations, had this to say today about the American target:

I think that the U.S. target is quite ambitious and President Obama has, of course, to remain within the political realities that he is confronted with.

I would like to remind this House that Canada has the same target as the U.S. If UN leaders consider the American target to be ambitious, ours must be as well.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government is now officially standing in the way of the truth. Where is the openness and transparency that we were promised by the government? The House has voted for there to be an inquiry into the scandal involving tortured transferred detainees.

The Prime Minister unveiled his economic platform over Siberia, about as far away from Canadians and the House as he could possibly get. The oft repeated refrain that it is already being implemented is belied by the municipal leaders who say that the money is not flowing. Where is the accountability and the truth?

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I say to my friend the leader of the NDP that this government has done more to bring accountability to Ottawa, to this place, than any government in Canadian history. Gone is the influence of big money in politics. Gone are the big union contributions that the NDP used to love. Gone are the old ways of the past Liberal government.

The Prime Minister has provided great leadership on the economy. He was pleased to release to the media internationally and in Canada the results of our economic action plan, our fourth report to Canadians. The good result is that Canada is poised to be one of the world leaders in the G7 with respect to economic growth this year, next year and the year after.

Harmonization TaxOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, honesty is the best policy. That applies to the HST, even though the Conservatives are blaming the provinces. With the help of the Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois, the Conservatives are going to raise taxes on heating fuel, which will hurt people in northern Ontario and elsewhere.

How, in good conscience, can those people vote to increase families' heating costs next winter? How can they do that?

Harmonization TaxOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, getting a lecture from the NDP with respect to taxes is quite something. I never thought I would live this long to hear it.

This is the government that brought forward major tax reductions for Canadian families, major tax reductions for small businesses, major tax reductions with respect to the GST. Every single time the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance tried to cut taxes, they faced the wholehearted opposition of the NDP and leader of the NDP who wanted to keep the GST at 7%. The only problem the NDP has with the HST is that it is not 2% higher.

Harmonization TaxOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives may try to ram through the HST with the help of the Liberals, but the NDP is going to fight them each and every step of the way. The NDP opposed the GST when it was brought forward years ago.

The Conservatives are proposing to add $30 billion of taxation to families in the next 10 years. We fought it in the 1990s and we are going to fight the new Conservative tax this time around as well.

Harmonization TaxOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, Mike Harris will be very pleased to know that the leader of the NDP has now donned the label of the great tax fighter of Canada. He has never met a tax he did not want to increase. He wanted to keep the GST at 7%. He wanted to keep income taxes higher. He wanted to keep taxes for small business higher. The NDP needs all these taxpayer dollars to fund all its wild social programs.

This government will continue to provide responsible fiscal leadership and will continue to work for economic growth, for job creation, to ensure that every Canadian family can experience the Canadian dream.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, between March 2006 and October 2007, the government continued to assert in this House many times that it had not received any specific and credible allegations of Canadian detainees being tortured in Afghan jails.

Can the Minister of Defence say with complete certainty that in his current position or as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, his office did not receive any specific and credible allegations of Canadian detainees being tortured from May to July 2007, inclusive?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member does not want to accept is that we improved upon the failings of his administration. We improved an enhanced agreement. When it came to transfers, we invested heavily in the Afghan system, its justice system, for training, for mentoring, for monitoring. We have improved the situation dramatically.

The hon. member may have some regrets or some cynicism in mind in asking these questions, but the fact is that two and a half years ago, in fact almost three years ago, we went to work improving the situation in Afghanistan.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am not surprised by that answer because the government has covered up the details of detainee transfers in Afghanistan from the moment it took office. Even the stoppage of transfers in November 2007 was not shared by the government until it otherwise became public.

Bearing in mind the witnesses appearing before the committee on Afghanistan today, does the Minister of National Defence still maintain that until November 2007 his office received no specific and credible allegations of torture of Canadian detainees?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member may want to cover up his spotty record, but he cannot continue to maintain that the generals who testified, the senior bureaucrat who provided evidence before this committee, have all said they saw no evidence of torture. We of course rely on the information that comes through those senior sources in the public service and the military.

Here is what General Gauthier had to say: “None of us would knowingly have ignored, disregarded, suppressed, covered up or put a cloak of secrecy over anything that we received from the field, especially on something as important as the detainee issue. I say that as dispassionately as I can. I mean it absolutely sincerely”.

I will take General Gauthier's word over that—

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the documents show that the government knew that detainees were, “whipped with cables, shocked with electricity and/or otherwise 'hurt'” in Afghan prisons. This corroborates NGO and UN reports describing even more explicit and inhuman abuses.

How can the minister continue to justify his government's indifference to these allegations?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, every member of this House, every previous and current government, would of course have concerns about human rights violations. Clearly, those allegations are general references to conditions in Afghan jails. There has never been a single, solitary proven allegation of abuse of a detainee, a Taliban prisoner, transferred by Canadian Forces. That is the issue. We will continue to invest and improve the situation in Afghanistan. That is what we are here to do. We can't continue to have these machinations. In the meantime, our professional public servants and soldiers are getting on with the job in Afghanistan.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, detainees are being beaten with cables, electrocuted and having their fingernails and toenails pulled out. These are all reports from the government's own officials, not just Richard Colvin.

Is the minister in such denial that he cannot even hear what his own officials are telling him? Or did the Conservatives simply request that our former ambassador pre-censor the documents so that they did not have to worry about them?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 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 this partisan environment. Let us consider the words of an individual like Gail Latouche of the Correctional Service of Canada, who is working in Sarposa prison in Afghanistan as we speak. Ms. Latouche was unequivocal that she and three colleagues from the Correctional Service of Canada who do the same work have seen zero evidence of torture or any abuse.

This is in large part because of the professional efforts being made, because of the new transfer arrangement, because of the eyes-on monitoring that is happening now as a result of this government's investment. That is the work being done. We are proud of that work.