December 1, 2009

CPC

Tom Lukiwski

Conservative

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(b), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 22 petitions.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Government Response to Petitions
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LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 and as certified by the clerk of petitions, I have two petitions today.

The first one is very timely in that the House has been considering the issue of child pornography, particularly on the Internet.

These petitioners from my riding of Mississauga South want to draw to the attention of the House that the creation, use and circulation of child pornography is condemned by a clear majority of Canadians, that the CRTC and Internet service providers have responsibility for the content that is being transmitted to Canadians, and that anyone who uses the Internet to facilitate any sex offences involving children is committing an offence.

Therefore, these petitioners call upon Parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to stop the Internet as a medium for the distribution of child victimization and pornography.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Child Protection
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LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the second petition has to do with an issue that has seized the House for some time. It has to do with Nortel retirees, particularly those who are receiving benefits for long-term disability and who are under duress now.

These petitioners are calling upon Parliament to amend the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act and the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to protect the rights of Canadian employees, and to ensure that the employees who are laid off by a company while receiving a pension or long-term disability benefits will obtain preferred creditor status over other unsecured creditors during bankruptcy proceedings.

They are also asking for the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to be amended to ensure that employee-related claims are paid from the proceeds of Canadian asset sales before funds are permitted to leave the country.

This is an important area and I hope the government will respond favourably to these petitioners.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Pensions
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NDP

Jim Maloway

New Democratic Party

Mr. Jim Maloway (Elmwood—Transcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I present a petition in which the petitioners from Manitoba are calling for the adoption of Canada's first air passengers' bill of rights.

The petitioners support Bill C-310, which includes compensation for overbooked flights, cancelled flights and unreasonable tarmac delays. The legislation is inspired by a European law. In fact, Air Canada is already operating under the European laws on its flights to Europe, so why should an Air Canada customer receive better treatment in Europe than in Canada?

The bill would ensure that passengers are kept informed of flight changes, whether they are delays or cancellations. The new rules would be posted in the airports, and airlines must inform passengers of their rights and the process to file for compensation. The bill deals with late and misplaced baggage. It also deals with all-inclusive pricing by airlines in their advertisements.

Bill C-310 is not meant to punish the airlines. If the airlines follow the rules, they will not have to pay a dime in compensation to passengers.

The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to support Bill C-310 that would introduce Canada's first air passengers' bill of rights.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Air Passengers' Bill of Rights
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CPC

Tom Lukiwski

Conservative

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, if the answers to Questions Nos. 464 and 465 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Permalink
LIB
?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
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LIB

Carolyn Bennett

Liberal

Hon. Carolyn Bennett

With respect to the Advisory Committee on Health Delivery and Human Resources (ACHDHR): (a) what are the most recent developments with the ACHDHR; (b) who are the current members of the ACHDHR; (c) how often is the ACHDHR meeting; (d) what is the current mandate of the ACHDHR and how is it being addressed; (e) what are the current goals and objectives of the ACHDHR; (f) how is the ACHDHR addressing the Framework for Collaborative Pan-Canadian Health Human Resources Planning that was released in 2005; (g) how is the ACHDHR tracking health delivery and health human resource targets for rural communities, the aging demographic, family medicine shortages and all other specialties, as well as aboriginal communities; (h) what reports has the ACHDHR recently issued; and (i) when will the ACHDHR be issuing a next report?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Sub-subtopic:   Question No. 464
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(Return tabled)


LIB

Brian Murphy

Liberal

Mr. Brian Murphy

With regard to seniors’ pensions and benefits provided by the government: (a) what is the government doing to assure a proper level of compensation for retired seniors dependent on government support; (b) is the pension amount in line with seniors needs and increases in the costs of living; (c) what is being done to ensure that an increase in one area of government support is not clawed back or eliminated by a decrease in another area of government support; (d) what are the benchmarks used in determining the levels of support needed by a senior citizen; (e) are these benchmarks different from region to region and, if so, how are the differences determined; (f) is the government planning pension reforms, and if so, what will the reforms entail, when will they be made known, when will they be implemented, and will they adequately support the number of qualified seniors; (g) has the government predicted how many people will become qualified for these programs in the future and, if so, what projections has the government made in this regard; and (h) what increases does the government predict for contributors to these programs over the next ten years?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Sub-subtopic:   Question No. 465
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(Return tabled)


CPC

Tom Lukiwski

Conservative

Mr. Tom Lukiwski

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Permalink
LIB
?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Permalink
CPC

Tom Lukiwski

Conservative

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with respect to Bill C-470, standing in the name of the member for Mississauga East—Cooksville.

Without commenting on the merits of Bill C-470, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (revocation of registration), I submit that the bill would extend the incidence of a tax and therefore should have been preceded by House concurrence in a ways and means motion for the bill.

The second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice states on page 900 that:

The House must first adopt a ways and mean motion before a bill which imposes a tax or other charge on the taxpayer can be introduced.

In addition, citation 980 of the sixth edition of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms states:

A ways and means motion is a necessary preliminary to the imposition of a new tax, the continuation of an expiring tax, an increase in the rate of an existing tax, or an extension of the incidence of a tax so as to include persons not already payers.

I would further note that on page 898 of the 23rd edition of Erskine May, it states:

A Ways and Means motion resolution is required to authorize extension of the scope of a tax, for example, to cover new classes of tax-payers.... The requirement for a Ways and Means resolution also applies to any proposal for a change in tax law or the administration of tax collection which may lead, albeit incidentally, to an increased or accelerated tax burden for any class of taxpayers.

By way of precedent, on November 28, 2007, the Speaker ruled in the case of Bill C-418, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deductibility of remuneration) that:

If adopted, this measure would therefore have the effect of increasing the tax payable by certain corporations.... In other words, the bill deals with an issue of ways and means....

In my view, Bill C-418 imposes a charge on the taxpayer, but it was not preceded by a ways and means motion....

Accordingly, the Chair must now direct that the order for second reading of the bill be discharged and the bill withdrawn from the order paper.

The purpose of Bill C-470 is to allow the revocation of the registration of a charitable organization, public foundation or private foundation, if a particular entity is paying an annual compensation that exceeds $250,000 to any of its executives or employees.

Let me explain why the bill would result in the extension of a tax. For the information of members, subsections 149.1(2) to 149.1(4) of the Income Tax Act provide rules upon which the Minister of National Revenue can deregister a charity. Bill C-470 would amend the Income Tax Act by adding paragraph (c) to subsection 149.1(2) of the act, adding paragraph (f) to subsection 149.1(3) and adding paragraph (e) to subsection 149.1(4). This would add a new condition where the Minister of National Revenue can deregister a charity. Let me explain in detail, if I may, how that may work.

At present, upon the issuance of a notice of revocation of its registration under any of the current subsections from 149.1(2) to 149.1(4), an entity is facing an additional tax burden. Subsection 188(1.1) of the Income Tax Act, read in conjunction with subsection 188(1), provides that such an entity is liable to a tax calculated in accordance with the formula found in subsection 188(1.1). This additional tax liability is known as the revocation tax.

Bill C-470 would add the new circumstances described in subsections 149.1(2) to 149.1(4) for deregistration of charities by providing that the Minister of National Revenue can, in addition to the current circumstances described in the Income Tax Act, deregister an entity on the basis that it pays more than $250,000 in compensation to one of its executives or employees.

Charities that would be deregistered under the new circumstances in Bill C-470 would be liable to pay the revocation tax imposed under subsection 188(1.1).

In addition, paragraph 149(1)(f) of the Income Tax Act provides that registered charities are exempt from taxation. Upon deregistration of an entity in the circumstances proposed by Bill C-470, that entity loses its tax exempt status as a registered charity and, assuming it remains a charity, it will not be able to benefit from the other exemptions from tax provided for in subsection 149.1(1).

In other words, Bill C-470 would result in an extension of the incidence of a tax by including entities that are not already paying the revocation tax or, potentially, a tax on their income. This means that the bill should have been preceded by the concurrence of the House in a ways and means motion for the bill.

As a result, I submit that the order for second reading of the bill should be discharged and the bill be withdrawn from the order paper.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Points of Order
Sub-subtopic:   Bill C-470
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LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, this is the first time in my 16 years here that I have come across this issue. I do not know the details of the argument as well as the hon. member has presented them.

However, one of the protections that members do have is the diligence and review done by the subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. For all bills that members submit, the members are asked to designate the bill or motion they would like to have on the order of precedence, once the bill is put on the order paper, to decide its disposition and admissibility, whether or not it is constitutional or would require a royal recommendation where additional spending were being recommended.

In this case, we have something in a parallel sense, but it does require a ways and means motion.

I will accept the argument of the parliamentary secretary. However, what the parliamentary secretary is saying is that as a consequence of this situation, this bill should basically be terminated and be taken off the order paper.

This is probably not the only option available to the House. I would argue that if the subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs was not aware and, in fact, has not advised the member, the member would never have picked this bill, simply because there is no process by which a member can actually introduce a ways and means motion to be able to deal with the bill. If the argument is correct, the bill therefore had no chance whatsoever of ever being correct.

I am sure that it would be the intent of the member to seek an amendment to the bill that she wants to put forward for consideration to committee, or would substitute another.

On behalf of the member, I would simply argue that this is not any fault of the member, but rather a circumstance of which she and most of the House were unaware, and that with the guidance of the committee, they may have been able to remediate this.

Thus I am asking for the House to consider whether the member could have the opportunity to seek whatever options might be available, so that she could have an item on the order paper, which is her right given that her bill was put there by the lottery conducted by the House.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Points of Order
Sub-subtopic:   Bill C-470
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LIB

Derek Lee

Liberal

Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough—Rouge River, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief about the simple logic being applied by the parliamentary secretary to this issue.

It seems to me that if a ways and means motion were required, the legislative matter might also require a royal recommendation. I do not think that is what is being argued here.

Second, I do not think that the measure being proposed here would create a new tax or a new tax measure. All it would do is to take steps that would make a person or an entity liable to an existing tax measure. If I were to use the same logic the government is using in this matter now, but to legislate in the House a promotion or to create an office whereby a person took that office and thus entered a higher tax bracket by virtue of earning more money, then a ways and means motion would be needed because the legislation, if passed, would ultimately result in that appointed person being subject to additional taxation on his or her income.

My point is that the legislation being proposed here merely sets up a circumstance where the entity would be subject to existing tax measures, not new tax measures.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Points of Order
Sub-subtopic:   Bill C-470
Permalink
CPC

Andrew Scheer

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker

I appreciate the interventions by the Parliamentary Secretary to the government House leader and the members for Mississauga South and Scarborough—Rouge River. I am sure they will be taken under advisement and a ruling will come back to the House in due course.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Points of Order
Sub-subtopic:   Bill C-470
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NDP

Paul Dewar

New Democratic Party

Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP)

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should, in accordance with Part I of the Inquiries Act, call a Public Inquiry into the transfer of detainees in Canadian custody to Afghan authorities from 2001 to 2009.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from St. John's East for seconding this motion.

On April 5, 2006, the following question was posed in this House to the then defence minister. It was posed by my colleague, Dawn Black, who was our defence critic at the time, and I will read it into the record. She said:

Mr. Speaker, on December 18, the Canadian Chief of Defence Staff signed an agreement with the Government of Afghanistan concerning the transfer of prisoners. My question is for the Minister of National Defence.

Was the previous Liberal government aware of this memorandum of understanding before it was signed? Why does a very similar agreement signed with the Netherlands allow its government to ensure full compliance with all international conventions while ours does not?

The reply by the then defence minister was:

Mr. Speaker, to my knowledge the previous government knew about the arrangement because it was done under its watch.

With respect to the second question, this is a more mature arrangement than the Netherlands has. Nothing in the agreement prevents the Canadian government from inquiring about prisoners. We are quite satisfied with the agreement. It protects prisoners under the Geneva agreement and all other war agreements.

The supplementary question by my colleague, Ms. Black, was:

Mr. Speaker, the agreement does nothing to stop prisoners from being transferred to a third party. Once Canadians hand a prisoner over to the Afghan government we wash our hands of the entire matter. This is simply not good enough.

Will the minister ensure that Canadian government officials have the same rights as Dutch officials when it comes to tracking, interviewing and ensuring that no human rights violations or torture will take place?

When will the minister redraft the agreement to better reflect our values as Canadians?

The then defence minister answered:

Mr. Speaker, we have no intention of redrafting the agreement. The Red Cross and the Red Crescent are charged with ensuring that prisoners are not abused. There is nothing in the agreement that prevents Canada from determining the fate of prisoners so there is no need to make any change in the agreement.

I begin with that because this is the beginning of what I think should be a study by an independent inquiry.

When we first took our place in this House in 2006, there was a transition in the military operations in Afghanistan. We were moving from Kabul to Kandahar, but we were also charged with different responsibilities. We had to take issue with the fact that we were handing over detainees and that there was much more activity in the field. That has been laid out, but we also had to take responsibilities that we all have as decision makers with regard to international law.

Obviously, we know what happened after what I just read into the record. There was an admission by the government that the transfer agreement was not as substantive as what it is claiming. The fact is that our agreement was not as robust as the Dutch agreement and we were not aware of what was happening to detainees once they were handed over.

In fact, at committee, we have heard from generals, both serving and past. We have heard from diplomats, serving and past. We have heard from those who were in the field, particularly Mr. Colvin. While there might be disputes with some of their testimony, there is one thing that is seamless and where there is a consensus, and that is that we knew of the allegations and reports of international groups who monitor human rights, such as the Red Cross and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, that there was abuse in Afghan jails. This is something everyone can agree on.

What we have had in front of committee is the statement of fact by Mr. Colvin that he was trying to bring forward to the chain of command, both military and through DFAIT, that there were problems and that we needed to rectify those problems. For over 15 months, his calls went unheeded.

In fact, there was still, by the government of the day, no formal acknowledge that there was a problem with the agreement. It was not until there was actual reporting from the field by a reporter, Graeme Smith. It was admitted at committee, after questions posed to the generals, that in fact when they had heard of the abuse as was noted in Mr. Smith's reports, there was a halting of that.

It is interesting to note that at the time when Mr. Colvin was writing his reports of concerns regarding detainee transfers, there were also, for the record, responses as of June 2006 from officials that there were no concerns.

Part of that is what is needed to be put on the record because our motion today calls for an independent lens, a judicial inquiry, to have documents put in front of someone who can sort out the contradictions, the contradictions that Mr. Colvin was stating in more than one report to over 70 people, that he had concerns about the handover of detainees from Canadians to Afghan prisons, to Afghan officials, and the generals' testimony that once they were handed over they were not the military's responsibility.

I will read from the Globe and Mail report written by Mr. Smith and referenced earlier. It was the cause for our halting of the transfer of detainees according to testimony at committee. It stated:

“Do you have facts?” he asked, in a June 2, 2006, interview with The Globe and Mail. The Canadian commander added that his soldiers had established close relationships with Afghan security services and only gave detainees to local officials who could be trusted to treat them properly. “We respect the rights of individuals,” Brig.-Gen. Fraser said. “We will make sure that those rights are maintained and nothing bad happens to those people”. Canada's appointed watchdog has always expressed less confidence in Afghan system. “The NDS is torturing detainees,” said Abdul Qadar Noorzai, the regional head of the AIHRC. “I've heard stories of blood on the walls. It's a terrifying place: dark, dirty, and bloody. When you hear about this place, no man feels comfortable with himself”.

We have in front of us a dilemma. On the one hand we have assurances from officials that are saying that they were not aware that there were concerns within the Afghan jails in particular to those detainees who were transferred by Canadians but we had concerns generally.

On the other hand we have Mr. Colvin, who was very clear in his testimony that he had tried to get the attention of his superiors. He was unequivocal in his statement at committee when he said that he had tried to get the attention of Canadian officials. He had underlined the insufficiency within our agreement. He had cited the Dutch agreement, as was mentioned by my colleague, Ms. Black, as being a preferred option. He had said that when we were handing over detainees, we had no way to monitor. We had no records.

The government's line to date has been the following. We cannot prove with absolute clarity that there was any torture of Afghan detainees that were handed over by the Canadian military to Afghan jails. Mr. Colvin's evidence is saying very clearly that there was no way to monitor and in fact the government was not following up on allegations, and it was not investigating until a new transfer agreement was signed off.

These are huge gaping holes. What we have in essence is a black hole for more than 15 months where we were handing over detainees. There was no follow-up in terms of monitoring. There was no follow-up in terms of allegations. Thus, there was no way to provide evidence. Therefore, the government's claims have absolutely no credibility. If we are not able to investigate, if we are not able to monitor, then we will not be able to find.

Mr. Colvin is not in my opinion a whistleblower. The government has conveniently tagged him with that moniker.

The reason Mr. Colvin appeared at committee and was able to give evidence was because he was asked to appear before the committee. Prior to that, he was to provide testimony to the Military Police Complaints Commission. We know the story there.

He was not able to give evidence. The commission was not functioning. I will not go through all of that. It is safe to say that the government did not want people to come forward. It did not want the commission to do its job. I do not think anyone would dispute that, save for the government of course.

We asked that Mr. Colvin come before committee so we could actually get to the bottom of what happened. Instead of listening to Mr. Colvin's testimony and taking that evidence in, the government's approach, and we have seen this time and time again, was to shoot the messenger, to attack his credibility.

Mr. Colvin came before the committee because he was asked. In the case of Mr. Mulroney, he was not invited to the committee until after Mr. Colvin attended and Mr. Mulroney asked to come before the committee.

It is interesting to note that prior to Mr. Colvin's testimony, the government was not interested in having this study done by the Afghanistan committee. It was very clear about that. It fought against Mr. Colvin appearing at committee and decided that it would support a study of sections 37 and 38 of the National Security Act but voted against Mr. Colvin coming before the committee.

Yet, after the motion passed in committee, it did not list Mr. Mulroney as a witness. All parties are able and encouraged to invite witnesses to the committee. Not once did the government say it wanted to hear from Mr. Mulroney until Mr. Colvin provided his testimony. That is interesting because it shows the government was not interested in the declaration from officials. What it was more interested in, after Mr. Colvin's testimony, was covering the trail.

I say that, sadly, because what the government should be acknowledging is what every single independent body that has looked at human rights in Afghan jails has observed, that there was and is abuse in them. That is obvious.

For some reason, the government has tried to deny that. I do not understand it. It is a well-known fact. In fact, one of the agencies Canada funds, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, and its representatives, whom I previously brought to committee before the detainee issue was before committee, had written very clearly that there was widespread abuse.

It is interesting that when Canada's monitors and trainers for the Afghan army and the Afghan police and the deputy minister were asked if they had read the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission's most recent report, they said they had heard about it but never read it. The reason given was that it had not been translated.

I do not know about anyone else, but if I am involved in training police and corrections officers in Afghanistan, and I have given the authority and mandate to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission to be an overseer and monitor what is going on in jails, I would want to read that. I would want my officials training the Afghan police and corrections officials to actually have read what is going on in the jails. They were not doing that. I brought that issue up months ago.

That report is now widespread. It has now been translated into English. It was curious that the government could not find anyone who read Dari in the monolith that is the bureaucracy, but the officials were finally availed of it. It was actually one of my staff who helped translate it.

The question in front of us is to take from the government and even the opposition the issue of the transfer of Afghan detainees and posit it before an independent inquiry.

Even with the government's hottest rhetoric, and we saw it all last week, how can the government deny what every single solitary editorial in this country and most people who look at this through an unbiased lens have said we need? We need an independent inquiry. What are the Conservatives afraid of?

The Minister of National Defence contradicted himself in the House. He said that he never read reports from Mr. Colvin and weeks later he said that he got an attachment on it. Last week the Minister of National Defence said that some of those reports came to him but they went through the generals and the bureaucrats first.

There is a lot of game playing going on, even with the one person who the government put forward as credible to attack Mr. Colvin. Members of the government did not say this when they quoted him in the House, but it is interesting to note what Paul Chapin, the third party validator for the government, did before he retired. The Minister of National Defence used his words in the House to defend the Conservatives' lack of action on the detainee issue and their denial. Before he retired, Mr. Chapin was actually the architect of the first detainee transfer. Now he works for a lobby group.

The one third party validator the government has is not even independent from all of this. He is entirely involved in the detainee transfer agreement. That is it. That is the government's credibility, one person, Mr. Paul Chapin. He is a fine gentleman, but let us be honest. He was the author of or was involved in writing the first detainee transfer agreement, which everyone agrees was insufficient.

Where is the credibility for the government? There is none. It is relying on hot rhetoric. I do not have to tell members that when the government starts calling people names and accusing people of being allied with the Taliban, it shows the merit of the government's arguments. If the government is not able to rely on fact, and if it is not able to make the argument, then there is the old parlour trick of attacking the messenger. We have seen this. Not only did the government attack us, and we on this side are used to the government attacking us, but it is so 2006, what we have seen this past couple of weeks. It is what we heard when we first debated this, that somehow we are aligned with the Taliban and we do not support the troops.

When the government starts to go after public servants who are not whistleblowers but who were actually called before the committee to provide evidence, then it has hit a new low. The limbo pole is almost on the ground and the government is trying to get under it.

If we are to get to the bottom of this issue and if, as the government claims, it wants to get to the truth, why is it the government has withheld documents? Why is it that certain journalists in this country have access to documents that a parliamentary committee does not have access to? Why is that certain people in this country are able to access information that a parliamentary committee cannot access?

If this were any other jurisdiction, for example the United States, and a congressional committee had asked for documents before witnesses testified, it would be given them in a second. However, not with the Conservative government. The government decides to attack the messenger. Never mind the facts. As I said, the facts that we have had in front of the committee demand further investigation. I say this as a member of the committee. I want this issue to be the subject of an independent inquiry. For the government to deny that makes its motive very clear.

The government does not want Canadians to hear the whole story. It wants to bury truth. It is going to take us down a path of poisoning an issue, politicizing an issue, instead of bringing light to an issue and instead of asking that someone who is unbiased, not the opposition, not the government, not any other third party, but someone unbiased look at this to get to the truth.

I call on the government not only to support this motion, but to announce its intent to call an inquiry. If the Conservatives deny a public inquiry, they will rue that day and history will not be favourable. They will wish they had gone down the path of transparency and called a public inquiry.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Transfer of Afghan Detainees
Permalink
CPC

Peter MacKay

Conservative

Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the words of the member opposite. I certainly agree with what he said, that we should not politicize this, that we should look for direction from individuals who are not directly tied to the issue. It is very instructive in taking his credibility to heart when he said that nobody else has validated this; it is only this other individual who formerly worked in the public service, Paul Chapin. Mr. Chapin said, “Colvin's charge is not that there was general torture going on. His charge is that we, Canada, knowingly turned over people to be tortured. And that's irresponsible because he has no hard evidence for that”. That is a former colleague from the public service. He said there were not others. There were in fact three high-ranking generals, Fraser, Hillier and Gauthier, all of whom were on the ground during the time in question, all of whom were clearly in a position of command with respect to the issue of detainees. They saw no torture. They heard of no torture. They reported no torture to the government.

Similarly, we had Mr. Mulroney, another public servant who was specifically tasked with the mission in Afghanistan. He gave his assessment of Mr. Colvin's testimony. He found it lacking. He found there was no evidence of torture that he had seen or that he had been directed to.

We have individuals like Christie Blatchford, an embedded journalist, not someone who would be beholden to the government. Here is what she had to say:

In condemning with the same brush highly professional Canadian soldiers, and to complain that they were complicit in breaches of the law of armed conflict and knowingly buried his reports, it is Mr. Colvin who has some explaining left to do.

That is from the Globe and Mail. We have people like Matthew Fisher, another embedded journalist. There is a growing list of individuals who are casting some degree of suspicion over Mr. Colvin's word.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Transfer of Afghan Detainees
Permalink

December 1, 2009