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House of Commons Hansard #123 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was report.

Topics

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister and the finance minister delivered our government's latest economic report to Canadians.

Canada's economic action plan is stimulating the economy, creating jobs for Canadians, and protecting those hit hardest by the economic downturn.

Just 10 months into our two year plan, our government has already committed 97% of our plan, adding up to 12,000 projects across the country. Eight thousand have already begun.

Our efforts are having a positive effect and communities across the land are seeing the benefits.

The OECD recently projected that Canada will have the second strongest growth among G7 countries in 2010 and the strongest G7 growth in 2011.

While our economy is recovering, it remains fragile. We will remain focused on fighting the recession and on helping Canadians.

We know that the opposition will throw mud and smear our accomplishments, but we will not be stopped from delivering on our promises. We will stay the course and fully implement Canada's economic action plan.

Montreal CanadiensStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, right now and over the next few days, the Montreal Canadiens hockey team is celebrating its 100th anniversary. This team has aroused the passion of Quebeckers on more than one occasion, whether due to its great rivalry with the now defunct Nordiques, or because of its 24 Stanley Cup victories, which is still an all-time record.

Quebec's love affair with hockey is nothing new. During this 100th anniversary, Quebec is proudly commemorating great legends like Maurice Richard, Jean Béliveau, Guy Lafleur, and so many others, who were closely watched by all their fans during their glory years.

The history of the Habs deserves to be commended as a model of pride, talent and success. On behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, I hail this anniversary with full confidence in the future of the sport in Quebec.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

December 3rd, 2009 / 2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, November 25 to December 6 are days of activism against gender violence. The purpose is to condemn all forms of violence against women.

We would be remiss if we failed to mention the fact that the Conservative government has been victimizing Canadian women by eroding the progress they have made.

Since coming to power, the Conservatives have mounted a constant assault against women. They have cancelled agreements with the provinces on preschool education and daycares, hindered the movement toward pay equity, gutted the court challenges program, reduced funding for literacy programs, silenced women's groups seeking equality and ignored the criticism of international groups.

The Prime Minister even went so far as to call everyone participating in the fight for women's equality “left-wing fringe groups”.

It is high time the government stopped treating women, who make up more than half of the Canadian population, like a special interest group and started giving them the power and the tools they need to advance their cause.

Consumer Product SafetyStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, under the weak leadership of their leader, Liberal senators voted to amend 16 clauses of our consumer protection bill, Bill C-6. This has made the bill dysfunctional and considerably weakens it.

Canadians, many of them parents, have less protection today thanks to the Liberals. While they are shopping for gifts to put under the tree, they can thank the weak leadership of the Liberals for making sure the bad actors, those people who normally sell bad products, are the winners in this. Shame on them.

The bill was designed to give us the tools to quickly respond to dangerous consumer products. Instead, the Liberals have given the devious the tools to keep selling these products to Canadians. The Liberal leader needs to wake up and lead his party, not follow it. He should wake up and instruct the Liberal senators to vote against these amendments and pass this bill.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker--

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. The hon. member for Toronto Centre has the floor and I believe he is going to speak, so we need to be able to hear.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

It is coming a little late in my case, Mr. Speaker, but I would like to ask a question of the Minister of National Defence.

We were told yesterday at the Afghanistan committee that a braided electrical cable, which is undoubtedly an instrument of torture, was found in the office of the director of investigations at the National Directorate of Security.

I would like to ask the Minister of National Defence, would he not agree with us that a discovery like that points to a systemic problem rather than simply a single instance with respect to a discovery of that kind?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, with any allegations, we have to base our actions on facts and substantiated truth.

The committee on Afghanistan did hear from a number of officials. On the site visits from the Correctional Service of Canada's Linda Garwood-Filbert, who is a 28-year veteran, said:

In other words, in 2007 alone, we visited Sarpoza Prison on 33 occasions, the National Directorate of Security on 12 occasions, and the Afghan National Police Detention Centre on two occasions, for a total of 47 visits. These were usually unannounced.

And there was nothing discovered.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, the woman in question said that they discovered an instrument of torture. That is what they discovered.

I will ask the same minister the same question. If an instrument of torture was found in the office of the director of investigations, would he not agree, considering such testimony—and I am directing my question to the government—there is a good chance this is a systemic problem rather than simply a single instance?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, let us look at other testimony we heard yesterday at the parliamentary committee. Colleen Swords, the former senior DFAIT official on the Afghan file, said:

I believe we did take all the measures that were reasonable at the time to ensure that we were doing everything we could to minimize that there would be a substantial risk.

Furthermore, Scott Proudfoot from Foreign Affairs, said:

The reports in question did not indicate that Canadian transferred detainees had been subject to mistreatment.

These are the facts.

Human RightsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government speaks loudly of its commitment to human rights, but we heard yesterday of a decision by the government that is truly shocking. That is the decision by CIDA to cut all funding, not part funding but all funding, for the organization known as KAIROS, which is an organization that includes the Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Anglican Synod and a number of other Christian denominations that fight for human rights around the world.

How is this government's alleged commitment to human rights possibly compatible with such a reactionary and retrograde decision?

Human RightsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, this government has taken a strong position on human rights, and the Prime Minister has shown great leadership.

When Durban I was going on, it was this party and the Prime Minister who called on Canada to abstain and not to go. The United States and Israel walked out on that anti-Semitic hatefest. Israel begged Canada to leave and Canada refused.

Thank goodness we have a Prime Minister and a government that put human rights at the top of the agenda and are proud to do it and express Canadian values each and every single day.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the spring of 2006, the Red Cross was sufficiently alarmed about Canada's transfer of detainees to meet with our officials at least four times to warn us of the danger of detainee torture in Afghan jails.

The government took no action for at least one year after these warnings. The Red Cross, of course, must not have been credible enough in the eyes of the government.

The government is covering up the fact that it continued to transfer detainees to a real risk of torture for at least one year after those warnings. Why the cover-up?

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, I have answered the question, but what I would point out is that when the Red Cross first started raising concerns, it was under the previous government, going back to 2005.

When our military or diplomats have come across credible, substantial evidence, they have acted. They have acted responsibly. We have heard that from both military and senior members of the public service. It is important to note that the case with respect to notifications to the Red Cross was not about prisoner abuse, it was about prisoner transfers and the Red Cross has now clarified that, not to warn them about prison conditions but the routine matter of discussing Canada's responsibilities. That is what it is about.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, in mid-2006, the Red Cross met with Canadian officials in Kandahar, in Geneva and in Ottawa. In Ottawa, the head of the Red Cross for the U.S. and Canada attended that meeting. Red Cross officials made a point of raising the issue of treatment of Afghan detainees and told our officials of a lack of judicial safeguards and that all kinds of things were going on.

Why is the government covering up the fact that it did absolutely nothing? For at least one year it continued transferring detainees to torture in Afghan jails. Why do Conservatives not stand up and answer honestly? Why is a cover-up going on?

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, the original concerns expressed by the Red Cross were expressed to the previous government, of which that member who is just now chuckling but was expressing righteous indignation a moment ago is a member.

However, I want to come back to the question from the member for Toronto Centre when he talked about a revelation at committee yesterday. This important issue was in fact addressed by the witness yesterday who told us that she did not in fact see this particular piece of evidence, nor has she ever indicated that she had any first-hand knowledge of torture in prisons. So that evidence is clear. It speaks for itself.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the memos that were made public confirm that the Red Cross met with members of the government as early as spring 2006, to inform them that the detainees transferred to Afghan authorities were at risk of being tortured. The national defence minister's office says it was not informed of the substance of that meeting.

The current Minister of National Defence did not hold that position when this meeting was held. Accordingly, can the Chief Government Whip, who was then Minister of National Defence, tell us whether he received the memos on this meeting with the Red Cross?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, obviously there was concern in this regard. That is the very reason the government instituted a prisoner transfer agreement. That is exactly why the government embarked on a process of enhanced monitoring. When this government gets credible, substantiated evidence, we have proven that we act.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it would have been nice if the Chief Government Whip, who was the minister at the time, reacted and answered the question.

The government thought it was a good idea to review the detainee transfer protocol in 2007 because there were problems with how the detainees were being treated before 2007. Otherwise they would obviously not have changed the protocol. If there were problems, there was a risk of torture. Yet, detainees continued to be transferred.

That being said, will the government admit that from 2006 to May 2007, it was in violation of the Geneva convention?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, let us be very clear. Let us look at what the House of Commons committee on Afghanistan heard yesterday from Scott Proudfoot, from the Department of Foreign Affairs. I will quote:

We did not have information suggesting that Canadian transferred detainees had been mistreated prior to April 2007.

It could not be any clearer. The member opposite should stop casting aspersions on the men and women in uniform. Frankly, he should stand in the House and apologize.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the first cases of torture surfaced, the government reassured us that the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission would ensure the safety of the detainees transferred. Under an agreement, this commission was to notify Canada if it discovered any cases of torture. No notifications were given simply because the commission did not have access to certain prisons.

How can the Conservative government maintain that Afghan detainees handed over by Canada were not tortured when its agent could not even visit them?

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, as I said, the original concerns from the Red Cross and others were about notification.

We of course improved the transfer arrangement. We improved issues related to notification of both the Red Cross and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

Upon detention of a prisoner, here is the way it works: Canadian Forces immediately informs Foreign Affairs staff at the Kandahar PRT, who in turn inform the Kandahar offices of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission as well as the International Red Cross. They report medical condition upon detention.

There is a much improved, much enhanced process now in place because of the hard work of our officials.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the meantime, the government continues to ignore the parliamentary committee charged with shedding light on the torture of Afghan detainees. Yesterday, we received hundreds of censored pages. On some documents, only the name of the recipient and the salutation is legible. The government's cover-up is absolutely shameful.

How can this government expect to establish democracy in Afghanistan when it is involved in censorship and is disrespectful of its own democratic institutions?

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, on the process of redaction, I know Canadians are rivetted by this. Redactions are done by non-partisan, independent officials in departments in conjunction with and supported by a special committee that deals with security at the Department of Justice. They look at the material for any concerns arising that would affect national security. They look at concerns that would relate to the disclosure of names or agencies or information that would have been given to us by our allies with respect to national security.

We of course follow the Canada Evidence Act. We of course follow all legislation as the previous government and others have done.

I wish the member would express the same concern for our soldiers.