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House of Commons Hansard #26 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was allegations.

Topics

PolandStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, Canada stands with Poland in mourning the tragic loss of President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, the first lady, and numerous other leading lights of Polish society. This unimaginable event shocked the world.

It is made all the more depressing and poignant by the fact that the president and his delegation were on their way to Katyn, Russia, to commemorate another national tragedy where over 22,000 of Poland's best and brightest were brutally murdered 70 years ago.

On behalf of all Canadians, the Prime Minister declared today to be a national day of mourning. He will also take part in the special memorial service with the Polish Canadian community in Mississauga this evening.

Today, those who died are in our thoughts and our prayers. We stand in solidarity with the Polish people during this very difficult and sad time.

AfghanistanOral Questions

April 15th, 2010 / 2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of National Defence. Each day, new and disturbing allegations come up regarding the treatment of Afghan detainees. These issues, which are serious and hard on Canada's reputation, have yet to be resolved.

Considering all these events and allegations, why is a public inquiry not launched to go to the bottom of this issue?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the key word in the hon. member's question was “allegations”.

In fact, what we heard yesterday was that a witness before the committee made allegations and when specifically asked about those allegations said that he had no specific evidence to support the claims. In fact, it was the hon. member who posed questions to him that elicited that response.

When specifically asked if he had even been in the area when the alleged incidents occurred, he said “No”.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it will not do to not recognize the seriousness of the allegations that were made by the individual yesterday.

I am hearing a lot of heckling on the other side. All I can say is that it simply will not do to dismiss it. The minister cannot dismiss Mr. Gosselin, Mr. Anderson and, with respect to the minister, continue to dismiss Mr. Colvin.

There is no other place for these allegations to go except for a proper public inquiry. That is the only place these questions can be resolved. It is the only way it can be done.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, nor can the hon. member or anyone else continue to dismiss the testimony of senior members of the military and the diplomatic corps.

What I would suggest is that each and every time there have been specific allegations presented on this subject matter, the Canadian Forces investigates. That was reinforced yesterday in a statement from the Chief of the Defence Staff, Walt W. J. Natynczyk. Each and every time there are specific allegations, appropriate officials take appropriate action.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is precisely because there are different accounts of the same event that we need to have some place to go to get the contradictions resolved. That is precisely why we need an inquiry.

At the Military Police Complaints Commission, the presiding officer cannot even see the documents that the witnesses can see and the lawyers for the government can see. How will that individual resolve these questions? A public inquiry is the only way to get to the bottom of these questions.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as a barrister and solicitor, as is the hon. member, as a former member of SIRC, somebody supposedly well-versed in the handling of confidential information that could impact national security, the hon. member surely knows that there is this little curious thing called substantiated evidence that has to enter into the fact of the examination.

When specific allegations are brought forward, we have forums, investigations and the ability to look into them. However, in yesterday's testimony, there was no specific evidence offered, by the witness' own admission.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is only before a judge that allegations turn into evidence and that is why we cannot dismiss Mr. Colvin, Mr. Anderson, Mr. Gosselin, Mr. Mulgarai and a number of memos that all point to a systematic transfer of prisoners to risk of torture and for rendition, and allegations of innocent civilians being sent to the NDS for further questioning.

Yesterday there was an allegation of a teen being shot in the head.

If General Natynczyk can call an inquiry overnight and has the courage to do that right away, then why the cowardice on the part of the government and not a public inquiry?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the emotion on the part of the hon. member but the reality is that we need specific allegations to take specific action. When that happens, the Canadian Forces will follow that evidence each and every time. The Chief of the Defence Staff indicated that yesterday.

With respect to testimony heard yesterday, and the hon. member was there, when the witness was specifically asked if he had firsthand accounts, proof that this happened, he said “No”.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, the witness yesterday said that he was at the point of transfer of prisoners to the risk of torture, particularly for rendition to the NDS. Now a former cultural adviser, a translator, accuses the current government of transferring a sick prisoner to the NDS, despite the fact that the NDS was prepared to have him shot and justify it.

The government is mired deep in lies, in scandal and in cover-up. When will it shed its cowardice? When will it have the courage to put these allegations from the generals, from the translator, from Colvin, from Anderson, to a sitting judge so we can have some proof?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, more rhetoric, more sound and fury, more unsubstantiated allegations that the hon. member, who is a lawyer, a former premier, is getting very good at. His theatrics are noted.

I wish, just for once, we would get a question from the hon. member that would reflect an acknowledgement that the men and women of the Canadian Forces continue to do great work on behalf of our country, at great risk to themselves and their families. He should stop disparaging their name, their work and stop making allegations, insinuating they are war criminals. That is despicable, detestable ethics.

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, new allegations shed some more light on the reasons why the former minister for the status of women was expelled from the Conservative caucus. Apparently, some pictures show her and her husband mingling with prostitutes at a party, where cocaine was used.

Instead of hiding, will the Prime Minister confirm that these are indeed the allegations that were forwarded to the RCMP?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, when these allegations were brought to our attention, we did what we had to do and forwarded them to the appropriate authorities, so that they would take the required and necessary actions.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, in addition to these disturbing allegations, which raise the risk of being blackmailed, it is claimed that three numbers for bogus corporations were reserved for them in Belize—a well-known tax haven—and could be used to engage in tax evasion and influence peddling.

Will the Prime Minister show transparency and confirm that these are indeed the allegations that were forwarded to the RCMP?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, the Prime Minister behaved like a statesman. He took the action that he had to take. He forwarded the allegations to those who normally deal with these issues. That is what he did. Now, if the opposition member has allegations to make, he should bring them to the attention of those who are responsible for taking appropriate action.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister claimed that he referred the file of the former minister for the status of women, but the ethics commissioner states that she received no formal request and she feels that she does not have enough information to launch an inquiry.

The Prime Minister, who claimed to be disturbed by the allegations targeting his minister, does not seem in a hurry to shed light on this issue.

Instead of constantly trying to hide things, why does the government not release the information it has, so that the appropriate authorities can do their job?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as I said in this place on Monday, serious allegations were brought to the Prime Minister's attention. He forwarded them to the RCMP. He also forwarded them to the independent Ethics Commissioner. He gave the contact information of where she could go to find additional information. She has the authority. She said, just yesterday, on the CBC, “I have also got the power to self-initiate if I feel I've got reasonable grounds”.

Rather than keeping her in the dark, the Prime Minister did forward on the concerns that were brought to his attention.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, in addition to releasing all the information that he has, the Prime Minister must tell us what he personally did to shed light on this matter. For example, a private detective suggested that the minister may have taken advantage of an official trip to Belize, in July 2008, to set up three bogus companies in that tax haven.

Did the Prime Minister's Office take basic steps to check this information, or any other information provided by this investigator?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, they were brought forward to the Prime Minister. What did he do? He immediately referred them to the RCMP. He immediately referred the issue to the independent arm's-length Ethics Commissioner. He acted responsibly, he acted quickly and he acted with high ethical standards.

Quite frankly, the Prime Minister did the right thing.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, this morning we learned that the warnings about torture did not reach the military police commander. This shows a lack of commitment, an unwillingness to properly follow up on the Afghan detainees transferred by Canada.

The testimony from the Afghan interpreter clearly shows that the NDS routinely uses torture. Everyone knows this.

So why the failure? Why were the warnings not received?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, that is false. We know that when Canadian Forces have substantiated evidence, they act. They follow up these allegations.

What we heard yesterday was just that. It was allegations. When pressed, when asked specifically to present evidence that could be followed, the witness admitted that he had no specific evidence to offer. They were allegations that he could not substantiate. That is what we are dealing with here.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the allegations made yesterday were very serious. They were made by a former translator for the Canadian Forces. They are allegations about the chain of command and about ministers as well.

He said that it was common knowledge that prisoners transferred to the Afghan authorities were tortured. Everybody knew, everybody knows that this is what was happening and is happening.

It cannot be cleared up by the government investigating itself. Therefore, when are we going to get the action that is required, a full inquiry? Our troops deserve better than what we are getting here today.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, our troops certainly deserve better than drive-by smears, allegations, non-specific references to their performance.

I want to be clear. When the Canadian Forces have specific information or allegations, they act, they follow all international obligations, they certainly follow the Geneva convention. They are doing an exceptional job in difficult circumstances. This is a very challenging mission for those members and their families.

I just wish the hon. member would show a little more support for what they do.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, everybody in this chamber supports our troops. That member should understand that and realize it.

When the Prime Minister was in opposition, here is what he used to say, and he said this with a certain energy, “There is no more important job than cleaning up government and bringing accountability back to Ottawa”. Those were the days.

The Conservatives are refusing to have an inquiry on the issue of torture in Afghanistan. They are refusing to tell us why they have called the RCMP on one of their own. And requests for information of the government take an eternity to get filled, if ever.

When will we get the accountability the Conservatives used to boast about?

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, this government's first order of business when the House convened was to bring in the Federal Accountability Act. We banned money from politics. We brought in the largest expansion of access to information.

When we tried to put a little light on the Canadian Wheat Board, the NDP stood up to put a cloak of darkness. Where there was darkness, we brought light. We overruled the NDP, and we have a lot to be proud of when it comes to accountability.