March 27, 2003

LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, there are two George Bushes, at last news, and I had very good personal relations with the President of the United States.

They should have listened to him when I met with him in September in Detroit, when he said that I was very straightforward, that sometimes I can be funny, and he said I could be a good Texan.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canada-U.S. Relations
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CA

Stephen Harper

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, a real friend of George Bush would be with George Bush and Tony Blair in the United States today.

Canadians are going to pay a price for this Prime Minister's and his party's anti-Americanism. A consumer survey by GPC International suggests that half of Americans could begin boycotts of Canadian products.

How could the government allow such a vital relationship to deteriorate this far?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canada-U.S. Relations
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I think that the Leader of the Opposition does not realize that we have good relations with the Americans. We disagree on that, but their friendship means that sometimes we can disagree. The Leader of the Opposition reminds me of the “ready, aye, ready” policy of another Leader of the Opposition of 80 years ago, Arthur Meighen. Ready, aye, ready was not the policy of the Government of Canada then and it is not the policy of the Government of Canada today.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canada-U.S. Relations
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CA

Jason Kenney

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, under the government's mismanagement, Canada-U.S. relations have reached their lowest level ever, evidenced by the possibility of a U.S. president threatening to cancel a visit to Canada for the first time. It is so bad that Liberal spin doctors are now blaming potential heckling from the NDP as a foil for this cancelled visit.

Will the Prime Minister not admit that this trip is in jeopardy not because of anybody in the opposition but because of anti-American heckling from his own members over the past several months?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canada-U.S. Relations
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, perhaps before I take the question from the hon. member he should get up and apologize to Senator Laurier LaPierre. Yesterday he accused him of having said something that was not true. He should offer his apology before asking his question.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canada-U.S. Relations
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CA

Jason Kenney

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I quoted from Hansard . He denounced it. Maybe he will apologize for that.

Now the U.S. is planning to set up a whole new second tier of border crossing regulations and checks for Canadians entering and leaving the United States. This will mean huge new line-ups and billions of dollars in additional costs in our bilateral trade.

But after having opposed U.S. efforts to implement UN resolutions on Iraq, after having tolerated anti-American diatribes from his own members, how will the Prime Minister have any credibility to fight these trade and job killing new U.S. border checks in Washington?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canada-U.S. Relations
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member yesterday made an affirmation in the House that it was true, and I said if it was true, it was unacceptable. The problem with this member of Parliament is that the truth has no relation to the reality, so when he is asking questions, if he does not apologize, I do not intend to answer his questions anymore.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canada-U.S. Relations
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BQ

Gilles Duceppe

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gilles Duceppe

Mr. Speaker, CBC Newsworld tells us that about half a dozen Canadian soldiers integrated with the British First Armoured Division are in southern Iraq at the present time.

That being the case, will the Prime Minister at last admit that Canada is taking part in the war against Iraq without UN approval?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Iraq
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, we are not at war with Iraq. There are Canadian soldiers with the American, Australian and British armies. It is possible that they might be on Iraqi soil at this time.

The Minister of National Defence has said they were in auxiliary services, not combatants. They had received instructions from their army to the effect that they could use their weapons only in self-defence. They are not combatants.

Between you and me, there is just a handful of them. Among the 300,000 soldiers, there are only a few Canadians performing duties for which they were requested months ago, with—

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Iraq
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?

The Speaker

The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Iraq
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BQ

Gilles Duceppe

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, reporter Paul Hunter asked Lieutenant Colonel Ronnie McCourt of the British Army whether there were any Canadian soldiers at risk of death or injury and his reply was ”Oh yes, they are in combat”.

Can the Prime Minister tell the general public and these soldiers' families why he says Canada is not supporting the war against Iraq when, in actual fact, Canadian soldiers are engaged in it and are in danger of losing their lives in a war this Prime Minister calls unjustified?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Iraq
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, right from the start the Minister of National Defence has clearly indicated that the government's policy was that these soldiers, having accepted transfers to the armies of the United States, Australia or England, would have to continue to fulfill their duties. This does not mean that Canada is taking part in the war.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Iraq
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BQ

Michel Gauthier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, for one week now we have been asking the government to tell us where the 31 Canadian soldiers on exchange with other armies are located. The government refuses to answer citing security as the reason. Apparently this would jeopardize the soldiers' safety.

The Prime Minister must assume his responsibilities, stop covering up the fact that Canada is taking part in the war against Iraq and tell us, since it is our right to know, where are these Canadian soldiers at this time?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Iraq
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LIB

John McCallum

Liberal

Hon. John McCallum (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, this is a slippery slope. They want to know the country where our soldiers are, next they will want to know the town, and next they will want to know the name, the rank and the serial number. We are not going to go down this slippery slope because they want us to reveal information which might put in jeopardy the lives of our soldiers, who are, as the Prime Minister and I have said, in a support function. We will not go down this slippery slope and risk the lives of the men and women of the Canadian Forces.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Iraq
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BQ

Michel Gauthier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, there are limits to what can be said here. Every day, CNN explains where the American soldiers are, what they are doing, what their objectives are, what happened during the day and what is likely to happen in the next few hours.

Our soldiers supposedly have an auxiliary role and the government is trying to tell us that if we knew the whereabouts of our soldiers, who have an auxiliary role, it would threaten the safety of the entire army.

The minister should do his job and tell Canadians where these 31 soldiers are. It is his duty to do so, before journalists tell us.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Iraq
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LIB

John McCallum

Liberal

Hon. John McCallum (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I just answered this question.

I am not going to go down that slippery slope.

I will not tell the world precisely where all our soldiers are. If the media is broadcasting this information, it is beyond my control. However, for my part, I will not provide precise information.

In terms of what these soldiers are doing, as has been said several times already, they are providing support. They are not to use force except in self-defence.

Canada, I repeat once again, is not taking part in this war.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Iraq
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NDP

Libby Davies

New Democratic Party

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, it seems very clear that the government is well down the slippery slope into war. Parliament has been very clear: no involvement in Iraq. Yet we have three Canadian ships escorting Bush's ships of war into combat as far north as Kuwait. Today we learn of a new risk of being rammed by Iraqi boats.

Mr. Bush says that the Geneva convention applies to POWs in Iraq because it is a traditional war. Yet he says on the other hand it does not apply to prisoners of war on terror because it is not traditional.

I have a very simple question for the Prime Minister. If a Canadian sailor is captured by Iraq, escorting a ship in Bush's war does the Geneva--

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Iraq
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The Speaker

Order, please. The right hon. Prime Minister.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Iraq
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, we have stated very clearly that the ships operating in this part of the world have been there for a year. They are there to help the people who are fighting terrorism in Afghanistan.

We have been there. We have served there. Our soldiers have done a great job. They have received compliments from everybody. Not only that, they were asked to take the lead of these ships long before the war. They are doing Canada proud, and they will keep doing their job because it is a fight against terrorism.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Iraq
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NDP

Libby Davies

New Democratic Party

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting that the Prime Minister refuses to answer this simple question. The government had an answer when it was American POWs, but no answer when it is a Canadian in the same war.

On March 20 the Prime Minister said that Canada had no troops in Iraq. On Monday that became no troops in combat. Yesterday he confirmed that Canadians were aboard AWACs, which are directing bomb runs.

Now we are getting calls from families of Canadians serving with British tanks in Iraq. Even defence officials are saying that Canadians are inside Iraq.

Again, my question is for the Prime Minister. If helping to select bombing targets and serving with tanks are not combat roles--

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Iraq
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March 27, 2003