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House of Commons Hansard #127 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was table.

Topics

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the facts of the case in question of course confirm what we have been saying all along, which is that when the Canadian Forces saw substantive evidence of any case of abuse, they have taken corrective action.

That is what they did in this case, and frankly, General Natynczyk today, correcting the record on a particular point, indicates once again that the Canadian Forces, from the highest level down to the man in the trenches, act with the highest integrity at all times.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, General Natynczyk did the right thing. Our soldiers on the ground did the right thing. The issue is whether the government did the right thing.

For more than a year, it had credible reports from Canadian diplomats, from Canadian military, of abuse of detainees in Afghan prisons. It did nothing. Will it now admit that it made a mistake?

There was a year when it did nothing. Will it appoint an independent judicial inquiry to get to the bottom of this affair and will it fire the Minister of National Defence?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, as has been pointed out on numerous occasions, over the period from 2006 to 2007, as we experienced some difficulties, the government, the forces, the Canadian diplomatic community took numerous actions to improve the situation, including rewriting all of the Liberal transfer arrangements with the Afghan government in early 2007.

The only nothing here is that the opposition has had nothing new to ask about in three years.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, General Natynczyk had the courage, the honour, and the integrity to correct the record today as he discovered more information. A Canadian detainee was captured, photographed, and transferred to the Afghan national police in June 2006. It was known that torture had happened before. He was abused and retaken by our troops.

Is it not time the Prime Minister had the courage, the honour and the integrity of General Natynczyk, and called a public inquiry?

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, I agree with the first part of the hon. member's question. General Walter Natynczyk is an honourable man and he did the right thing by correcting the record as he did this morning.

Clearly, I accept what he has said. Clearly, this House should accept what he has said. The CDS, the Chief of the Defence Staff, has now called for a military board of investigation to look into this particular incident.

We continue to have faith in our CDS, in our members of the Canadian Forces who continue to perform marvellously on the ground in Afghanistan. We have confidence in what they do each and every day.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, General Natynczyk acted honourably. He admitted that he was not provided with a full account of a Canadian detainee abused in 2006. He wants answers.

No one in the government, including the Prime Minister, seems to have the courage, the honour, the integrity and the desire of General Natynczyk to get at the truth. I dare them to prove me wrong. Why would they not call a public inquiry?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, as the Prime Minister has said, in this instance and in other instances the actions of the Canadian Forces have been beyond reproach.

Every time we have had credible allegations or evidence, we have acted. We acted to improve the transfer arrangements, the inadequate arrangements, left by the previous government. We have acted to improve the situation vis-à-vis human rights in Afghanistan. We have invested. We have mentored.

We have the ability now to have unfettered access inside Afghan prisons. All of that happened between 2006 and 2007. We are in a better place today because of the actions of diplomats and soldiers, and we thank them and applaud them.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, now we know that the Minister of National Defence has been hiding the truth about Afghan detainees all along. The Chief of the Defence Staff has confirmed that in May 2006 an Afghan detainee had been transferred and tortured and that he was even photographed before being transferred because there were suspicions that he would be tortured.

Is the Prime Minister going to take the side of the Minister of National Defence or is he going to take responsibility and demand that the minister resign?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the leader of the Bloc is saying, it is clear that the Canadian Forces acted appropriately in this situation. When there was evidence, or if substantial allegations were made, the forces took action to correct the situation. They did the same thing in every case and the Chief of the Defence Staff's comments today confirm those facts.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Forces did not act improperly; the government did. This government has used the troops for purely political gains. It has shown utter disdain for the soldiers, their families, the diplomatic corps and members of the opposition. No one trusts this government any more.

Will the Prime Minister do the right thing and call a public inquiry to shed light on this affair?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is clear: it is the opposition that is accusing our soldiers of committing war crimes. The government is not doing that. This government has always defended the actions of Canadian soldiers. General Natynczyk's comments indicated again today that the forces are acting appropriately in every situation.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say to the Prime Minister that we defend our soldiers and that we accuse him of creating a cover-up and abandoning the Afghan detainees.

According to the facts presented by the Chief of the Defence Staff, he has known since 2006 that Afghan detainees were tortured, as there is photographic evidence, and that there was a risk that detainees would be tortured if they were handed over to the authorities.

My question is for the Prime Minister, since we have lost all confidence in the Minister of National Defence. Will the Prime Minister admit that Canada did, in fact, violate the Geneva convention and that he should therefore demand the resignation of his defence minister?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, when evidence occurs, when evidence arises, we act.

With respect to this incident, as I said before, when we receive information, we act upon that information. In the case in question, the conduct of the Canadian Forces, which is the matter of this discussion, was beyond reproach. I have said it. I rely on information and advice from senior officials, from the military.

This issue came to my attention this morning after I spoke with General Natynczyk. He immediately went on the record to correct the record. He did the honourable thing. I accept what he has said today as the truth.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, will the Prime Minister accept his responsibilities, stop intimidating witnesses, stop smearing the opposition and diplomats, put an end to the disinformation, stop calling the opposition the friends of the Taliban and do the honourable thing? He must immediately apologize to this House.

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, as I have indicated, the Chief of the Defence Staff received this information this morning. He contacted me. The decision was made that he would correct the record, which is exactly what has happened. The general has indicated this information upon being brought to his attention. It was something that he wanted to go public and correct. I rely on his information and advice as I did during my time as minister of foreign affairs. I act on that advice.

Whenever there has been credible information and evidence brought forward, our diplomats, our professional soldiers have acted appropriately.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Chief of the Defence Staff confirmed today that Afghans captured by Canada have been tortured in Afghanistan. We repeat our demand from yesterday, that the Prime Minister must fire the Minister of National Defence immediately. The demand by the majority of members of this House for a public inquiry is now more legitimate than ever. The cover-up must stop. The disinformation must stop. We need the truth.

When will there be a public inquiry?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the facts of this case have been clear for a long time. In 2006, the Canadian Forces suspected the abuse of a Taliban detainee. They took steps to correct the situation in 2006. This is another indication that the Canadian Forces always do the right thing in such cases.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, will they stop already. The Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence cannot spin their way out of this one. The Chief of the Defence Staff just contradicted everything that they have been saying in the House time and time again.

The minister claimed there was no proof of abuse. He was wrong and he should take responsibility and resign and if not, the Prime Minister should demand it today.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, the facts on the record today indicate exactly what the Canadian Forces have been saying. Three years ago they knew of a case of abuse. They took corrective action. General Natynczyk corrected the record on some points today, once again showing our forces act with the highest of integrity.

If the opposition thinks otherwise, it can say so. Otherwise, we will stay on course and continue to back our military.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

December 9th, 2009 / 2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is clearly skating on this one.

Let me talk about what our Canadian winter Olympic athletes are saying about climate change. I am going to quote what they are saying, “Many of us—

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, they clearly do not want to—

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. The hon. member for Toronto—Danforth has the floor. We will have a little order, please.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the fact is the pressure is increasing on the government to take action on climate change. It is global. Here is what our own athletes in the winter Olympics have to say:

Many of us are already seeing the impact of climate change on our beloved winter sports...We can't sit on the sidelines when solutions exist.

Does the government even realize that our winter sports are at risk because of climate change?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, that was not the smoothest transition the leader of the NDP has ever done between subjects, but it is a serious question.

Canada has a large delegation at the Copenhagen conference and that delegation is working very hard to reach a good and all inclusive international agreement that would make progress on this very serious matter in the years to come. We remain optimistic that if all parties remain committed to working for an agreement, we can do something that will be good for the planet.