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House of Commons Hansard #97 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pope.

Topics

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, recently in Winnipeg, the leader of the Liberal Party made insulting and offensive comments that were supported by his Liberal candidate, Kevin Lamoureux. The Liberal leader insinuated that Julie Javier, a Filipino Canadian with an impressive professional and community background, is only running so she could steal votes from the Liberal candidate in the Filipino community because of her heritage.

Virginia Guiang, former executive director of the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba, said it best when she said:

It’s offensive for [the Liberal leader] to insinuate that members of ethnic communities all vote the same way. Putting Canadians into voting blocks based on ethnic origin is old school Liberal politics and it has no place in today’s Canada. Women, Filipinos, and members of other ethnic communities are individuals who can make up their own mind. We are not voting machines that just blindly go and vote Liberal.

The Liberal leader and his candidate need to apologize.

AfghanistanOral Questions

November 16th, 2010 / 2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, since June, our party has been clear: the combat mission in Afghanistan must end in 2011, and Canada must then engage in a training mission.

We have heard the government's proposal. Can the government and the Prime Minister assure us that Canadian soldiers will not be involved in any combat once the new mission begins and that the training will be done—

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. The right hon. Prime Minister.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are not proposing a combat mission. I took note of the Liberal Party's advice in that regard, and I can assure the Liberal Party leader that the mission until 2014 will be a non-combat mission.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, 20,000 Canadians served in Afghanistan since 2001; 153 brave soldiers did not survive and their sacrifices must not be in vain. We need to be clear about this new engagement of Canada after 2011.

Can the Prime Minister guarantee that this is not going to involve combat, that it is going to be out of Kandahar and that the training will occur in safe conditions in Kabul?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

The answer is yes to all those questions, Mr. Speaker. As the Minister of National Defence, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and others have said, we are looking at a non-combat mission that will occur. It will be a training mission that will occur in classrooms, behind the wire, in bases.

The government has been very clear and we do think this is a way of ensuring we consolidate the gains that we have made and honour the sacrifices of Canadians who have served in Afghanistan.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we called for an open national debate on this question as far back as June. The government spent five years saying nothing about Afghanistan. In fact, the Prime Minister said very clearly he wanted no post-combat mission. Then he changed his mind. Then there were trial balloons. Then ministers were saying one thing, then another. There was a period of frantic improvisation, and three days before Lisbon, presto, we get the details.

Can the Prime Minister explain and justify this process of frantic improvisation in the making of Canada's foreign policy?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, of course, the current mission does not end until well into next year. That is why the government has taken the time to look at all the facts on the ground before making the decision it has taken.

I note that the decisions we have taken are very close to what the Liberal Party in fact recommended, so I am glad that we actually agree on this particular matter.

Canadian ForcesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, some 13% of the current rotation in Afghanistan is expected to develop anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, but Canadian Forces personnel are waiting up to a month for treatment in the country's five largest mental health clinics. In rural Canada, it is even worse.

How is it possible? How is it possible that the minister did not anticipate these needs?

Canadian ForcesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Quite the contrary, Mr. Speaker. In fact, we did anticipate that we would face challenges with respect to operational stress. That is why we took the unprecedented step of virtually doubling the number of health care professionals currently employed by the Canadian Forces.

We now have roughly 378 full-time mental health professionals. We have others on contract in rural parts of the country. We have a mental health awareness campaign initiated by the Chief of the Defence Staff. Joint personnel support units provide operational stress injury support. We have ongoing programs and efforts. I appreciate the input from the member opposite on this important issue.

Canadian ForcesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no way to track mental health issues among the Canadian Forces and veterans. A national database is critical to understanding the extent of mental health issues and how to best treat conditions.

Can the minister explain why the fully automated medical record-keeping system, which was to be operational in 2008, was delayed until 2011 and now until March 2012?

Canadian ForcesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has to decide whether she will rely on statistics or say there are none.

The reality is that we have now appointed a special adviser for operational stress injuries. As I mentioned, we have doubled the number of full-time mental health professionals. We have, in addition, taken steps to partner with clinics, as we do here in Ottawa with the mental health clinic.

We continue to work with the private sector, as we do with hospitals near many of the bases around the country, and we have a mental health awareness campaign. We provide mental health services through 43 primary care clinics and 26 mental health clinics across the country.

We will continue to invest in this important issue for those personnel and their families.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government's unilateral decision to extend the military mission in Afghanistan is totally unacceptable. In the 2007 throne speech and during the election campaign, the Prime Minister repeatedly promised, and I quote, to “make Parliament responsible for exercising oversight over...the commitment of Canadian Forces to foreign operations”.

Is the Prime Minister aware that by breaking his promise to Canadians, he has lost his honour?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, the government has kept its promise with regard to the motion that was adopted here in the House. The combat mission will end in 2011, as planned.

In the coming years, as we continue to work alongside the Afghan people and the international community, Canada will continue to play an important role in supporting efforts toward a better future for all Afghans.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is playing word games again, just as he did yesterday. Clearly, a training mission in Afghanistan is a military mission. Moreover, in a recent interview, retired General Rick Hillier made it clear that if we try to help train and develop the Afghan army, we are going to be in combat.

Why is the Prime Minister trying to mislead the public, unless it is to make it easier for him to break his promise to hold a vote in the House and withdraw the troops after 2011?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am not playing word games. It would help if the member understood what the words mean.

Canada's new non-combat, I repeat non-combat, role will focus on four key areas: investing in the future of Afghan children and youth through education and health; advancing security, the rule of law and human rights; promoting regional diplomacy; and delivering humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people. That is what we are going to do.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is trying to justify keeping Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan on the pretext that they will not have a combat role. France has proven that it is impossible to conduct training without being involved in combat missions. France has lost about 50 soldiers, some of them while training Afghan soldiers.

Will the government admit that it is attempting to mislead Canadians by claiming that we can train the Afghan army without participating in combat missions?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, not at all. The member is mistaken.

Canada will continue with the mission until 2011. At that time we will transition to a mission that will involve training in Kabul, as the Prime Minister has pointed out.

Approximately 950 Canadian Forces personnel will take part in that mission to train Afghans, to give them the skill set that they need to provide the type of security for their country, to do the type of work, frankly, that we are doing for them right now.

We are very proud of the efforts of the Canadian Forces and all of the Canadians who have contributed mightily in this mission.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, by announcing the extension of the military mission in Afghanistan beyond 2011 without consulting Parliament, the Conservative government is reneging on two promises. Quebeckers believed that the government would withdraw all Canadian soldiers from Afghanistan by no later than the end of 2011, and that any military mission now had to be debated and voted on by Parliament.

Why has the Conservative government misled Canadians?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the government has not misled Canadians at all. We have to distinguish between a combat role and a non-combat role. In any mission, as we have already mentioned, we are sending Canadian troops to a foreign country for a cause. It is Parliament that decides whether or not to play a role and become involved in a war. In a non-combat role, the armed forces provide advice and give courses in classrooms. This type of work is training and we will—

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Toronto—Danforth.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs stated yesterday that a vote did not have to be held on extending our mission in Afghanistan and that it was the same as deploying our troops to Haiti.

Can the Prime Minister show us that he truly understands the difference between a humanitarian mission to Haiti and the war in Afghanistan?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, in future, our mission in Afghanistan will be a development mission, a humanitarian mission and a mission where we will train Afghan forces. We have never had to vote in the House on non-combat missions. We respect the motion passed by this Parliament.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker,

You can come up with all kinds of schemes to hide away in a camp and train people for the Afghan army or police, but they lack credibility. If you try to help train and develop the Afghan army or police in...Afghanistan, you are going to be in combat.

Those are not my words. Those are the words of former General Hillier.

Can the Prime Minister tell us, why did he break his promise to bring our troops home?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. The mission that we are authorizing going forward does not authorize combat. Our soldiers will be training Afghan personnel on bases and in classrooms. We are very clear on that.

Our Canadian Forces have served in Afghanistan for almost 10 years. They have taken a lot of casualties. It is important that we honour the sacrifice they made, important that we do things to make sure that we consolidate those gains. We are very proud of the work that our Canadian Forces have done and will be doing in Afghanistan.