Mr. Speaker, I am going to share my time with the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.
I rise today, on this Bloc Québécois opposition day, on a matter of concern to a number of Quebeckers and Canadians, the extension of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan.
The Conservative Party and the Liberal Party did not want to discuss the issue, so this will be our only opportunity to talk about this mission, a mission that the Liberals and the Conservatives have agreed will be extended to 2014.
We understand that the Conservative government has signed a backroom agreement with the Liberals to extend the mission. Those two parties have agreed that extending the mission in Afghanistan will not be subject to a vote in the House.
I am proud to be a member of the Bloc Québécois today. The Bloc's opposition day motion is providing an opportunity for some debate about the mission in Afghanistan.
We would have preferred that the Conservative government introduce it, given its 2006 election platform, which stated that any extension of the mission in Afghanistan would be subject to a vote in the House. The Prime Minister has stated on a number of occasions that the military mission would end in 2011, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs has also made statements to that effect.
It is a shame that we are holding the debate on this mission on a Bloc Québécois opposition day, since the government has made a number of statements and commitments that any deployment of troops in Afghanistan would be subject to a vote.
It is a shame because we are going through a time when people are more and more cynical about politics and more and more distrustful of politicians. They are putting less and less faith in politicians. We are here in the House having a debate that should not be taking place given the fact that we were agreed. Even the Prime Minister said clearly that any extension of the mission in Afghanistan would be subject to a vote. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Any extension should go to a vote because we are elected parliamentarians. There are 308 members in the House, and each of us represents close to 100,000 voters who elected us for our ideas. We have taken part in debates in a number of election campaigns. Personally, like all the hon. members of the Bloc Québécois, I have faced the Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats and candidates from other parties during these debates. The people I represent in Berthier—Maskinongé elected me precisely because we talked about the mission in Afghanistan in the numerous debates I took part in during the campaign.
We talked about assistance to unemployed people, and we talked about guaranteed income supplement budgets. We took part in a number of debates. I represent the people of Berthier—Maskinongé. My Bloc Québécois colleagues, the people of Berthier—Maskinongé and the citizens of all of Quebec are against extending the mission in Afghanistan. A survey shows that over 70 or 75% of Quebeckers are opposed to it.
Unfortunately, some Conservative members from Quebec, who are still supposedly in power and still voluntarily toeing the government's line, did not vote for what Quebeckers want with regard to extending the mission in Afghanistan.
The Prime Minister has made a number of statements. In the 2007 Speech from the Throne, he said:
The Canadian Forces mission has been approved by Parliament until February 2009, and our government has made clear to Canadians and our allies that any future military deployments must also be supported by a majority of parliamentarians.
So what is the government doing? It is making deals with the Liberals on the sly and it is avoiding facing Parliament and the people of Canada and Quebec. Basically, it is avoiding facing up to the opinions and values of Canadians and Quebeckers who are against this military mission in Afghanistan.
Despite what the Conservative government and Liberals can tell us today, we are talking about training Afghan soldiers and police officers. When we talked about extending the mission to train Afghan police officers and soldiers, General Hillier clearly said two weeks ago that we could not do so without finding ourselves in a combat situation. It was not a Bloc supporter or an hon. member of this House who said that, but a general who has been there, on the ground in Afghanistan.
Personally, I think something a Chief of the Defence Staff said is more credible than anything we can say in the House. The French army has been training Afghan soldiers for a few years now and over 50 French soldiers have been killed in these training missions.
Whether or not we agree with any of the other parties regarding the mission in Afghanistan, we must debate the issue. Any time we spend large sums of money on military missions and send troops, people from our country, Quebeckers and Canadians, to fight and risk their lives, I think it is extremely important that we vote on it in the House.
There are 308 members in this House representing all Quebeckers and Canadians, yet we are avoiding a vote on this issue. We are asking military personnel to risk their lives. I am convinced that any soldiers who go to give training in Afghanistan will be risking their lives. I truly believe a vote should be held.
The Canada first defence strategy does not clearly define the government's foreign military policy. There is no explanation for such exorbitant military spending.
It has not been defined. Why are we buying so much defence equipment? It is difficult to understand.
At the same time, and as a final point, of course I do want the government to be able to take part in military missions, but I also want it to be just as concerned about our veterans when they come home, since they often lack resources, especially if they are injured or have a disability of any kind.