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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

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are getting caught up in their contradictions. The former minister's lawyer said that she was not informed of the allegations, but the Prime Minister's Office is saying the opposite.

The Prime Minister claims to have referred the allegations to the Ethics Commissioner, but the commissioner says that she learned about them from the newspapers. It seems that the minister and her husband abused departmental resources: BlackBerry, limousine, chauffeur, parliamentary office.

What is holding the Prime Minister back? Why not formally refer the situation to the Ethics Commissioner?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, serious allegations were brought to his attention. What did he do? He did the responsible thing. He did the ethical thing. He immediately referred these allegations to the relevant authorities so that they, on behalf of Canadians, could independently look into these situations.

That is the honourable thing. That is the ethical thing. The Prime Minister did the right thing.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, the red flags should have gone up last September when Mr. Jaffer was charged with cocaine possession. One does not buy cocaine at one's local pharmacy. One has to have an illegal source. Did the government learn nothing from the Julie Couillard affair?

Why did the Prime Minister not order an enhanced security check of his minister months ago, at the first suggestion that her husband was in contact with people with criminal connections?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the allegations made by the member opposite are quite preposterous.

Let me be very clear. Last Thursday evening, serious allegations were brought to the attention of the Prime Minister. He acted immediately. He brought the issue to the RCMP. He also notified the Ethics Commissioner.

He acted responsibly. He acted ethically. He acted expeditiously. The Prime Minister did the right thing.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, in 2008, when the former status of women minister represented foreign affairs, she went on a government-funded trip to Belize. On the trip, she met with those at the highest levels of power. However, according to media reports, it is alleged by the Prime Minister's own informant that the minister and Mr. Jaffer also had questionable private business interests in Belize.

Will the government assist a police investigation and proactively release all details of everyone the minister met during her trip to Belize?

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, if we want to talk about proactive, the minute this information was brought to the Prime Minister's attention, he acted ethically. He acted responsibly. He did the right thing. He referred the entire matter to the RCMP. It is the competent authority to conduct this investigation, and this government will co-operate fully in that investigation should it choose to undertake one.

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, the minister was not the only familiar face on that Belize trip. Mr. Jaffer also accompanied her and participated in official ministerial events.

Given that he was still an MP and Conservative caucus chair at the time, did the government pay for Mr. Jaffer's travel and does it have detailed records of who he met with while in Belize?

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the authorities in these matters is the RCMP. The Prime Minister has forwarded all the information that he learned last Thursday evening on to the RCMP so it can conduct an independent investigation.

The Prime Minister's ethical conduct in this matter has been beyond reproach. He acted ethically, he acted immediately and he did the right thing.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government's version of events in the Afghan detainee scandal is falling apart. An Afghan-Canadian interpreter has confirmed that when Canadian soldiers thought detainees were lying, they would turn them over to the Afghan security service for Afghan-style questioning, which meant torture. In short, we contracted out torture.

How could the government claim that the 2007 protocol was working well when the incidents reported by this interpreter took place more than a year after that protocol was put in place?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, again, nothing was confirmed. It was alleged.

Let us be clear. Each and every time in these instances, Canadian Forces leadership can only transfer prisoners if they are satisfied on the ground that there is no real risk that a transferred prisoner would be subjected to torture or mistreatment. That is the standard they meet.

I just wish the hon. member would raise his standards a little in his questioning.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like the minister to raise his standards too, so that there is more transparency in the House on this issue.

The Afghan interpreter also says that Canadian troops killed an Afghan youth. What did the troops do? They went into a village, arrested 10 innocent people and turned them over to be tortured.

Instead of ignoring these summary arrests, what is the government waiting for to step up to the plate and do the only thing it can do, which is to call a public inquiry?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, more feigned righteous indignation.

What the witness did say yesterday was that he was not there. He did not see it. He was not around the area when this alleged incident occurred, so it was of course unsubstantiated. When we have substantial evidence or information, we act. But that member and others opposite like to wrap their arms selectively around what witnesses say.

What I heard the witness say yesterday was that each and every member of the Canadian Forces, from the top generals to the men and women on the ground, was a liar. If that is not disparaging their reputation, then I do not know what is. I would be very loath, if I were a member opposite, to associate myself with comments like that.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, in spite of the new agreement that was supposed to solve all the problems with transfers of Afghan detainees, Canada kept on handing over Afghan detainees, who were often innocent, to be tortured. Diplomat Nicholas Gosselin documented at least eight cases of torture between January and August 2008.

How can the government claim to have done its duty when the torture of detainees who were transferred to the Afghan authorities never stopped?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, what is astounding to me is that repeatedly we see members opposite completely wrapping their arms around these broad statements of unspecified, unsubstantiated evidence.

What we did as a government in 2007, after inheriting a mission put in place by the previous government and inheriting a flawed transfer agreement, was to put a new agreement in place that allowed for more mentoring, more monitoring. I am told now, in fact, that public safety officials have been able to go to those prisons more than 200 times, were able to improve their professionalism and work on the infrastructure.

It is not perfect, but it is far better than it was when we inherited this mission.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether the minister heard the witnesses who, according to him, made unsubstantiated allegations. He might want to try really listening to them.

Mr. Gosselin's reports were never turned over to the military police complaints commission. They are probably too incriminating for the government. Because the government's negligence and mismanagement are at the heart of this affair, the public should have access to all the documents, in their original, uncensored version.

When will the government show some transparency? When will it stop—

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I do not know where the hon. member has been, but the government has indicated that it will make available all legally available documents.

We have asked Mr. Justice Iacobucci to conduct an independent, comprehensive review of all the documents. We are cooperating with the MPCC. Those members should let the commission and Justice Iacobucci do their work.

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and the Minister of the Environment both admit to having met with Mr. Jaffer to discuss his request for government cash. Allegations now surface that might explain why, allegations that the former Conservative caucus chair and then status of women minister needed cash or low-interest government loans to boost the value of phony offshore companies hidden in the tax haven of Belize.

Given the growing list of serious and troubling allegations, it is critical that the government turn over these funding requests. Will it, and when?

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, on the specific allegations that are before the House, neither the Minister of the Environment nor the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities provided any grant for the issue in question.

The member opposite should be ashamed of himself.

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, what the minister should be ashamed of is hiding the truth from Canadians, refusing to reveal these allegations and refusing to report these meetings when they happened.

We know the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities has the funding requests. He told the media, “I've got the paperwork right in front of me”.

With a growing cloud of allegations, including cocaine use, phony offshore companies, tax evasion, escorts, abuse of public trust by a minister while in cabinet, can the Prime Minister not see that he makes matters so much worse by hiding what he knows? Will he simply come clean and tell us the facts, or is he going to prorogue again?

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it was this government that set up an independent lobbying commissioner, so if the member opposite has any specific allegations to make, he can make them to that independent officer of Parliament.

The member opposite could also make allegations without parliamentary immunity. He could go outside and repeat the outrageous claims he just made, but I suspect that when it comes to that member, once again he will not have the guts.

Access to InformationOral Questions

April 15th, 2010 / 2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it has become very clear that the Prime Minister wants to keep Canadians in the dark. He has decided to impose a culture of secrecy and to govern against the will of Canadians by covering up the truth.

Thirteen departments received below average marks or completely ignored the access to information deadlines set out in the legislation. The Conservatives want to hide what they are doing to our county in order to cling to power, which is anti-democratic.

Will they admit that their promise to be transparent was absolutely meaningless?

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

North Vancouver B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the government is committed to transparency and openness for Canadians.

We appreciate the advice that the information commissioner gave to us. We recognize there is room for improvement and we are taking steps to improve.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Information Commissioner is talking about systematic censorship. Entire pages are being censored, which demonstrates the Prime Minister's wilful blindness regarding the torture. He even shut down Parliament in order to duck the issue.

Rights & Democracy, the muzzling of scientists, cuts to climatologists' funding, the behaviour of ministers, and the list goes on. It is official: this government is in the dark ages. Why does the Prime Minister insist on maintaining this culture of secrecy?

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

North Vancouver B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, we appreciate the comments made by the information commissioner.

Decisions regarding access to information are made by professionals in the civil service. Ministers do not involve themselves in these decisions.