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House of Commons Hansard #8 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jobs.

Topics

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Speaking on behalf of the government, Mr. Speaker, I am sure the hon. member is aware that these kinds of allegations are allegations that have cropped up over a number of years. They have been covered at length in terms of the debate in this place as well as investigations. That is one of the reasons why three years ago the government created a new and more robust transfer arrangement that replaced the arrangement put in place by the previous Liberal government before we came to power.

When our military and our officials have been presented with a credible--

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Toronto Centre.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have often thought of the Minister of National Defence as being many things, but a shrinking violet is not one of them. I am sorry he is not in a position to answer the question.

To the same minister, the Minister of Industry, who is now answering questions for the Minister of National Defence on the question of the detainees, how can he explain the following contradiction? The state department report that was issued yesterday with respect to what is happening in 2009 is a public document that can be seen on the Web.

I would like to ask the minister very--

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of Industry.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to answer the question from the hon. member, who is in fact acting for the leader of the official opposition. I suppose we are two peas in a pod.

Of course, some of the questions the hon. member is asking will be reviewed by Mr. Justice Iacobucci, who will be doing an independent, comprehensive and proper review of the redaction of the documents. He is a respected jurist, known by Canadians to be in the highest regard. I anticipate, or at least hope, that the hon. member--

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Toronto Centre.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister has raised the question of Mr. Justice Iacobucci. It has now been a week since the former judge was asked to do something by the government. We do not know exactly what he was asked to do. We do not have the terms of reference of what he was asked to do.

The other day the Prime Minister referred to it as a thorough inquiry and on the same day the Minister of Justice said that there will be no inquiry, that there would simply be a review.

I would like to ask the minister, when will we finally get the terms of reference of the work that will be done by Mr. Iacobucci?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

With the greatest of respect, Mr. Speaker, we already know what the task of Justice Iacobucci will be. He is undertaking an independent, comprehensive and proper review of the documents related to Taliban prisoners.

He is a respected jurist, as I mentioned before, and he will ensure that the proposed redactions genuinely relate to the information that would be injurious to national security, national defence or international interests, and he will be reporting to all of us.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time the government has asked Justice Iacobucci to conduct an inquiry. Last time, the government completely ignored his recommendations and shelved his report. The last time the government ordered a public inquiry, it took six months to get the process up and running.

What will happen this time? How long will it take? We want to know when the inquiry is going to begin, how long it will last, and when we can expect the results. These are simple questions, and we want answers.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it was just indicated that Justice Iacobucci, who is clearly a respected jurist in this country, will undertake a comprehensive review of documents.

By the way, this is the same type of review that is done routinely by independent public servants in examining documents. Mr. Iacobucci will do the same thing. That information will be reviewed by him. There will be a report back to the House or to a proper committee. This is very much in keeping with practices around documents such as these.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is kind of ridiculous. They made an announcement but have not provided any details.

The House has the right to know. Canadians have the right to know. What is Justice Iacobucci's mandate? What are his powers? Most importantly, will his mandate enable him to release information about the torture cases he finds in the documents? If not, then what is the point?

Why will they not answer these questions? Are they afraid? Do they already know what the judge will find?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the point of the review was to have another independent review of documents pertaining to the handling of Taliban prisoners. We have to look at this in its scope and examine that information as it might impact on operations and on information received from a foreign government.

This is the undertaking of this government. We are bringing Mr. Iacobucci into a process that already has an independent review, called the public service, that looks at redactions to determine that same said process.

TaxationOral Questions

March 12th, 2010 / 11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, is clear: “The [Conservative] government's fiscal structure remains unsustainable over the long term.” This means that, unless the Conservatives go and get the money where it can be found, they are going to have to make drastic cuts to programs at the expense of the poor and the middle class.

Will the Minister of Finance finally take off his rose-coloured glasses and impose a surtax on people with taxable income of $150,000 or more, as well as on the enormous bonuses some people receive?

TaxationOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, the budget is prepared in consultation with private sector stakeholders. The economic forecasts in the budget are based on an overall average provided by private business.

Moreover, economists largely agree that this is a reasonable basis for planning our budget. I encourage Kevin Page to meet with these economists, who say that we are even being prudent in our budget estimates.

TaxationOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the forecasts the minister refers to, which the Minister of Finance used, are made by economists who work for the banks, whereas Kevin Page is employed by Parliament. He says that the minister's forecasts are not a prudent basis for fiscal planning. That means that there is cause for concern.

Will the minister stop protecting the banks at the expense of the common good and take steps to prevent them from using tax havens to evade their responsibilities?

TaxationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, once again, when the Minister of Finance prepares his budget, he meets with the private sector experts known as economists.

The member complains about the banks. Yet yesterday he said that they were making hefty profits. Surely, these people are in a good position to advise the Minister of Finance.

I want to say again that the government bases its projections on average private sector forecasts. This is nothing new. We have been doing this since 1994. These forecasts are credible and based on expert advice.

TaxationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, Kevin Page has confirmed that the federal budget is not viable. In addition to taking more from the rich, the government should have recorded in its books the more than $8 billion owed to Quebec. In the last budget, there was no trace of the $800 million for education, or the $2.2 billion for harmonization of taxes, or the $1 billion in compensation for the unilateral cap on equalization payments.

How does the government explain that, according to the budget, Quebec does not seem to exist?

TaxationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, when preparing the budget, we consider the needs of all the provinces and what is best for the country as a whole. I would like to remind this member and his political party, the Bloc, that Statistics Canada just announced that, in February, 21,000 jobs were created in Canada and the unemployment rate dropped from 8.3% to 8.2%.

This government is responsible and has put in place measures that are working.

TaxationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

This minister, who is a Quebecker, should know that amounts owed by the federal government to Quebec have serious consequences for the finances of the Quebec government. The noose is tightening around Quebec. While students are protesting in the streets for a better education system, $800 million is sitting in Ottawa. While the Quebec government considers another sales tax increase, $28.2 billion for the harmonization of taxes remains in Ottawa.

What is the Conservative government waiting for to pay monies owed to Quebec?

TaxationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, as we know, with equalization, poorer provinces receive money from the federal government.

Quebec is one of the provinces that receives the most money. This year, Quebec's transfer payments were not cut, they were increased.

As for Quebec's demands concerning the harmonization of the GST, talks are ongoing. The parties should be allowed to conclude these discussions.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, a report yesterday from the U.S. State Department says that conditions are horrific in Afghan prisons and that torture was and is common. Beatings with scorching bars and flogging by cable were reported. Police frequently rape female detainees and prisoners.

Yet the government has repeatedly told the House there is no credible evidence of torture and it continues to hand over the detainees to the NDS.

Is it the government's position today that the U.S. State Department is not a credible source, and why is it refusing to release the documents on what is going on in Afghanistan?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member is aware, of course, there have been a number of occasions where similar reports have been raised.

All we can say is that our military and our officials, when presented with credible, substantiated evidence, have taken very appropriate action. Of course, the point is that when we had an opportunity in government, we changed the arrangement for the better.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, this government handed detainees over to the governor of Kandahar, a known torturer who has his own private prison.

A number of our allies have stopped transfers to Afghanistan's NDS, but this government continues to do so despite the fact that the NDS is known to use torture.

Only the Conservatives refuse to acknowledge that torture is common practice in Afghan prisons.

Why do they insist on continuing to transfer detainees to the Afghan secret services?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, when there were credible witnesses, we took action in the best interests of both Canadians and Afghanis.

Three years ago, we concluded a new agreement on the transfer of detainees with the Afghan authorities. It is better than the one concluded by the previous Liberal government.

We are taking action in the best interests of both Canadians and Afghanis.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government is in denial. It continues to claim this is not occurring any more, but continues to hide documents that would in fact show it continues. Ministers' offices are given preview copies of what is to be released and frequently send them back to be censored.

This is a government that still believes that what Tommy Douglas did in the 1930s is a state secret.

Will the government not at least admit today that torture, sexual abuse and killings are common in Afghan prisons, and why will the government not admit the obvious?