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- Mr. Leroux (Shefford) 7821
- Motion 7821
- Mr. Bellemare 7822
- Mr. Jacob 7823
- Mr. Leroux (Shefford) 7824
- Mr. Young 7825
- Mr. Leroux (Shefford) 7828
- Mr. McClelland 7828
- Mr. Thompson 7829
- Mr. Ménard 7829
- Mr. Finlay 7829
- Mrs. Cowling 7829
- Mr. Althouse 7829
- Mr. Harb 7830
- Mr. DeVillers 7830
- Mr. Dumas 7830
- Mr. Epp 7830
- Mr. Caccia 7831
- Mr. Wells 7831
- Mr. Milliken 7831
- Mrs. Picard 7831
- Mr. Breitkreuz (Yellowhead) 7831
- Mrs. Bakopanos 7832
- Mr. Frazer 7832
- Mr. Assad 7832
- Mrs. Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata) 7832
- Ms. Copps 7833
- Mrs. Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata) 7833
- Ms. Copps 7833
- Mrs. Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata) 7833
- Ms. Copps 7833
- Mr. Leroux (Richmond-Wolfe) 7833
- Ms. Copps 7833
- Mr. Leroux (Shefford) 7833
- Ms. Copps 7833
- Mr. Manning 7834
- Mr. Young 7834
- Mr. Manning 7834
- Mr. Young 7834
- Mr. Manning 7834
- Mr. Young 7834
- Mr. Bellehumeur 7835
- Mr. Rock 7835
- Mr. Bellehumeur 7835
- Mr. Rock 7835
- Mr. Hill (Macleod) 7835
- Mr. Volpe 7835
- Mr. Hill (Macleod) 7835
- Mr. Volpe 7835
- Mr. Crête 7836
- Mr. Anderson 7836
- Mr. Crête 7836
- Mr. Anderson 7836
- Mr. Solberg 7836
- Mr. Peters 7836
- Mr. Solberg 7836
- Mr. Peters 7837
- Mr. Scott (Fredericton-York-Sunbury) 7837
- Mr. Pettigrew 7837
- Mr. Pomerleau 7837
- Mr. Anderson 7837
- Mr. Pomerleau 7837
- Mr. Anderson 7837
- Mr. Benoit 7838
- Mr. Goodale 7838
- Mr. Benoit 7838
- Mr. Goodale 7838
- Mr. Lincoln 7838
- Ms. Copps 7838
- Mr. Hanger 7838
- Mr. Rock 7838
- Mr. Hanger 7839
- Mr. Rock 7839
- Mr. Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean) 7839
- Mr. Pettigrew 7839
- Mr. Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean) 7839
- Mr. Pettigrew 7839
- Mr. Abbott 7840
- Ms. Copps 7840
- Mr. Althouse 7840
- Mr. Pettigrew 7840
- Mr. Bergeron 7840
- Mrs. Stewart (Northumberland) 7840
- The Deputy Speaker 7840
- Mr. Solberg 7841
- Mr. Peters 7841
- Bill C-368. Motions for introduction and first readingdeemed adopted 7841
- Mr. Caccia 7841
- Mr. Leroux (Richmond-Wolfe) 7841
- Mr. Knutson 7841
- Mr. Knutson 7841
- Mr. Knutson 7841
- Mr. Malhi 7841
- Mr. Malhi 7841
- Mr. Harb 7841
- Mr. Maloney 7841
- Mr. Maloney 7842
- Mr. Maloney 7842
- Mr. Maloney 7842
- Mr. Maloney 7842
- Mr. Richardson 7842
- Mr. Gagliano 7842
- Consideration resumed of motion. 7842
- Mr. McClelland 7842
- Mr. Frazer 7843
- Mr. Frazer 7843
- Motion 7845
- Mr. McClelland 7845
- Mr. McClelland 7845
- Mr. Leroux (Shefford) 7846
- Mr. Bergeron 7847
- Mr. Richardson 7849
- Mr. Ménard 7849
- Mr. Bertrand 7850
- Mr. Frazer 7851
- Division on motion deferred 7851
- Consideration resumed of motion 7852
- Mr. Knutson 7852
- Mr. Crête 7854
- Ms. Meredith 7856
- Mr. Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca) 7857
- Mr. Gilmour 7858
- Mr. Thompson 7859
- (Motion agreed to.) 7860
HOUSE OF COMMONS
The House met at 10 a.m.
That in the opinion of this House, the government should commit itself to having full light shed on the events occurring before, during and after the deployment of Canadian troops to Somalia, by extending the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry until December 31, 1997.He said: Mr. Speaker, on January 10, the Minister of National Defence announced he was putting an end to the Somalia inquiry, conducted by the Létourneau commission and designed to shed light on what happened before, during and after the incidents in Somalia.
Needless to say that, like many Canadians and Quebecers, the official opposition is very disappointed with this decision. Today, we will attempt to demonstrate to this House that extending the mandate of the commission is not only necessary but also beneficial to Canada as a whole.
When this commission was established, the Prime Minister of Canada stated, and I quote: ``For the first time in a long time a government has had the courage to ask for an inquiry into the operations of national defence. Never has it been done before''. This statement was made by the Prime Minister of Canada on September 16, 1996. He stated further: ``In the meantime we have to respect the commission and let it finish its work. After that we will make our decision based on its recommendations''.
At that time, the Prime Minister of Canada told us it was a precedent to establish a commission. But on January 10, the same government, through its Minister of National Defence, decided to put an end to the commission's deliberations. That too is a first in Canada. Never before has a government dared to shut down so abruptly an inquiry commissioned by itself.
Throughout this period, the Standing Committee on National Defence hardly ever met. Again, while this government felt it was important for the commission to get to the bottom of the incidents that occurred in Somalia, we realize today that this is not going to happen.
Of course, we will be hear about what happened before the incidents in Somalia, about how willing and prepared our troops were to be deployed to Somalia to fight on behalf of Canada. We will definitely be told about that. In the end, Canada was not ready. We decided to send troops over there, but they were not ready for the mission. We will probably also find out what happened, in terms of the actual events, including the two alleged murders that took place in Somalia. The inquiry's mandate was to restore the honour and the integrity of the Canadian forces.
I have the pleasure of sitting on the House joint committee with the hon. member for Charlesbourg, where we proposed a whole slew of amendments. I have been sitting on the defence committee for three years, and we are constantly being told that the morale of our troops is not good. Mr. Speaker, I want to advise you right now that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Charlesbourg. As I was saying, morale was not good three years ago and it is no better today. It has not been good for a long time, I think.
The inquiry must find out why the morale of our troops has deteriorated so much. This is what matters. It is as though the defence minister and the Prime Minister finally decided that the Létourneau commission was not important, that it would make recommendations, but that- So, the minister decided to set up another committee to look at the issue of morale, without waiting for the inquiry's findings. And this is tragic.
The truth is that this government set up the inquiry in the hope that the Conservatives, the previous government, would suffer the political damage. However, the more the inquiry moves along, the more obvious it is that there are links with this government and that the period yet to be reviewed would involve friends of the government, friends that the government does not want singled out.
Remember the great search of April 9, 1996. Commander in chief Boyle decided that a thorough search would be conducted everywhere, even in garbage cans, filing cabinets, under chairs, in tanks, etc. to find documents that had been lost. This exercise was just a big farce and Canadians know that. For six months, the
Canadian forces refused to co-operate and, all of a sudden, a ``search day'' was declared.
That day, everyone from the top brass on down turned everything inside out in an attempt to find the documents. For six months the Canadian armed forces had been refusing to co-operate with the commission. But the main reason this inquiry was set up was to see what went on afterwards. That is what is important. When you want to correct a situation, when you want to improve the morale of the troops, do you not have to find out what is not working?
Who is it they want to protect? There are some very important people who will not be able to take part, whom it will not be possible to call as witnesses. First of all, there is Robert Fowler, who was deputy minister under the Liberals, the Conservatives and again under the Liberals, a survivor. Now he is Canada's ambassador to the UN. It will not be possible to call him to appear before the commission; there will unfortunately not be time. He is probably one person who knows quite a bit about the affair. There are others. There is also John Anderson, chief of defence staff when the events occurred. He was named ambassador to NATO. He is another one who will not be questioned.
There is former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, who will also not appear before the commission. She is consul general in Los Angeles. So this person, who said she was intimidated at the time, was told: ``Hold on there! If you want it to go well for you, keep your lip zipped''.
What are they doing now? It is very simple. I would describe the Minister of National Defence as the government's firefighter. Members will recall this minister's career; he was at transport. He decided that there would be no more trains in Canada. Then he was sent to human resources; he was the one who decided to close down employment centres all over the country. He did the dirty work. Now he is at the defence department to do the same thing. They have decided to put a lid on it.
They had realized that the Liberal government would take quite a beating. Members will recall what the Prime Minister told us. That was the first time they had set up such a commission of inquiry. It is probably also the first time they have wrapped one up so quickly.
It is for this reason that the Bloc Quebecois, Canada's official opposition until the next election, and aware of its responsibilities as the opposition, is asking the government to change its mind.
In closing, I will read you the motion, which says:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should commit itself to having full light shed on the events occurring before, during and after the deployment of Canadian troops to Somalia, by extending the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry until December 31, 1997.If this is not done, we will never know the truth, and it will never be over. We will have thrown away $25 million without even knowing what really happened.
Mr. Eugène Bellemare (Carleton-Gloucester, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member of the Bloc Quebecois is trying hard to tarnish even more the Canadian army's reputation. We know full well that members of the Bloc have no intention of trying to improve the situation with regard to the Department of National Defence. They just want to drag this department through the mud.
As a matter of fact, was the member who just said-or should I say he was mumbling-all kinds of things about DND not the one who wrote to our military personnel before the referendum to try to form his own separatist army? If it was not him, it surely was his colleague or another one of these separatists who are out to destroy DND.
Yes, we had problems in Somalia. The government knows that. When did these problems occur? They occurred under the Conservative government, before 1993. The Prime Minister has fulfilled his responsibility and conducted an inquiry. The inquiry has already been granted extensions two or three times. Will it be allowed to drag on until the year 2025?
We must immediately implement procedures that will improve the military. That is what the defence minister is doing right now. The main objective of this government and of all parliamentarians is to improve our national defence department, not drag it through the mud as you, separatists, are trying to do.
Mr. Leroux (Shefford): Mr. Speaker, as we saw, the hon. member rambled on a wide variety of issues. He obviously was not well briefed on this issue.
All I want to say is that, when we look back on the history of the Canadian Armed Forces, we see that there are many shortcomings, a total lack of leadership, and that the measures undertaken by successive defence ministers did not settle anything. Quite the opposite, the situation is getting worse all the time.
We have a commission of inquiry which, I acknowledge, is costing us a lot of money, but it would not cost a whole lot more to let it continue its work. Unless the minister changes his mind, on March 31, the commission will start to prepare its report. So, from March 31 until June 30, nothing will happen, and on June 30, the commission will submit its report. This is totally unacceptable.
The work of the inquiry is not done. For six months, the armed forces tried to hamper the inquiry and hide the truth from it. Some documents were tampered with, others were shredded. Some were made to disappear. These people are professionals. Mr. Justice
Létourneau is an extraordinary man, who wants to get at the truth, just like every Canadian and Quebecer. We want to know the truth so we can correct the situation.
The hon. member is just babbling away. Once Quebec is sovereign, we will have armed forces based on what Canada currently has, which is why we want a solid and determined Canadian army, with good leadership and some kind of vision. When we send Canadians to keep the peace in other countries, we want them to be prepared and proud to act on behalf of all Canadians and Quebecers.
Mr. Jean-Marc Jacob (Charlesbourg, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am always happy to speak in this House although some issues are rather sad and distressing to discuss.
I will not remind you of the decisions that were recently made by the new defense minister but rather give you some background to shed some light on the problems in the armed forces, whose reputation the Bloc is trying to tarnish according to some Liberal members. I will go over certain facts and give you some background.
In 1985, the now dead-and-gone airborne regiment was under investigation. Of the 568 members of that regiment, 112 had a record with the military police and 89 with the civilian police. Military leaders were ordered to take steps to remedy the situation, but things did not improve.
In 1992, at CFB Petawawa where the now defunct airborne regiment was based, Colonel Morneau indicated to the then Chief of the Defence Staff, General John de Chastelain, that the regiment was not adequately trained for this kind of mission and recommended that it not be deployed in Somalia.
General de Chastelain was near the end of his mandate, but he nevertheless ordered the deployment of the regiment, knowing as he did that the following month he would be the new consul in Washington, in the United States. That was in December 1992.
In January 1993 there was a new Chief of Defence Staff, John Anderson. He travelled to Somalia in February and early March with Bob Fowler and other generals. All were well placed to see the somewhat aggressive or racist behaviour already reported. Moreover, if memory serves, the commander there at the time was reprimanded. This was Commander Seward, I believe. He was reprimanded, and fined as well, for excessively aggressive activities toward the Somalis.
During that visit, neither Mr. Fowler nor General Anderson reported any abnormal incidents. Curiously, General John Anderson was there two days after the first incident involving young Shidane Arone on March 4, but there was no report.
Six weeks later, the military police decided to launch an investigation. We know what happened then. They immediately found one guilty party, Kyle Brown. He was charged and sentenced to five years in prison. The officers and non-commissioned officers were found not guilty. There were a few reprimands, promotions were frozen; that was it.
Time passed. In 1993, public pressure for something to be done started to build up. Incidents continued to occur. You will recall that, in February and March of 1994-some members will say that it was the Bloc again trying to sully the name of the armed forces, which is far from the case-it was reported that certain members of the Airborne Regiment at Petawawa were going around with Ku Klux Klan pennants and flying Nazi flags on Canadian Forces vehicles. Colonel Kenward was in charge at the time, and this was tolerated-no problem.
The situation just went from bad to worse. It was not simply the Somalia affair, but a combination of everything that was going on.
Under public pressure, the former Minister of Defence, the hon. member for Don Valley East, announced the creation of a commission of inquiry into the Somalia incidents, stating that the full truth would be known, and that everyone would be called to testify before the commission.
It should be recalled that around the month of October 1995, in this Chamber, members of both the Reform Party and the Bloc Quebecois accused the Minister of National Defence of the day of having contrived with the armed forces, to a certain extent, to prevent the inquiry from obtaining documents.
I recall very well that the then minister of Defence had blown a fuse, much like the current minister did yesterday. It was quite a show. How dare we question the integrity of our armed forces?
I would like to point out that if we are simply listing facts, it is not to tarnish reputations, as some may think. I regret, but these are facts. Members will recall that things which happened in 1994 were revealed recently.
The funny thing with the armed forces is that the truth always comes out, two to three years after the facts, like the incidents of Bacovici, sexual abuse at Wainwright, or fraud and embezzlement at CFB Valcartier. The list goes on and on. It might be added that even a civilian working for National Defence headquarters managed to organize a pornography ring from within the department.
This situation must certainly be due to a glitch in operations. Early in 1995, I read a report of Brigadier-General Jeffries which said that the problem in the armed forces which could lead to some
shall we say deviant behaviour among some of the military was a lack of leadership. I did not say it, a Brigadier-General did.
In another report, Colonel Oehring mentioned that there was a flagrant lack of leadership and discipline and a complete distortion between the top brass and the rank and file. I would remind all members that at one point the media revealed that some soldiers and sailors had applied for welfare and even went to the soup kitchens in western Canada.
On the other hand, look at some of the officers. Consider Admiral Murray with his cavalier and arrogant testimony, who lived in a 6,000 square feet house for the astronomical sum of $581 per month. For a regular soldier who sees how these officers behave, it is pretty demoralizing.
In fact, this is all par for the course. Look at all the players in this case. John Anderson was aware of what happened. He went to Somalia, he knew exactly what was going on, and to punish him for his lack of leadership, he was appointed to NATO. Bob Fowler was deputy minister of Defence for many years. He was in Somalia in March 1993, but said nothing and saw nothing. And then, around the end of 1995, Mr. Fowler was appointed as Canada's delegate to the UN. Interestingly, if we go back even further, we see that he was a political assistant to Mr. Trudeau, the former Liberal Prime Minister, in 1983-84, and he also happens to be the new Governor General's brother-in-law. It looks like the old boys' network.
There is also John de Chastelain, who came back as chief of staff. He was ambassador in Washington, where he was replaced by the Prime Minister's nephew, Mr. Chrétien. Hon. members will recall that when the regiment in Somalia was abolished or eliminated, General John de Chastelain tendered his resignation, which was refused by the Prime Minister. Finally, in December 1995, General de Chastelain resigned and left the scene, and then we had Mr. Boyle.
You are signalling to me, Mr. Speaker, that I have only two minutes left. I could go on and on, but I will now get to my conclusion. My point is that the former Minister of National Defence, the hon. member for Don Valley East, as well as the current defence minister and the Prime Minister declared, in November 1994, October 1995, March 1996 and June 1996, that we needed to get to the bottom of this. That it was not just about the deployment of the Airborne in Somalia but that there were other incidents which, as I pointed out, prompted some officers to point to a lack of leadership.
What we are doing now is a matter of ethics. I would even say that it no longer matters that the commission of inquiry is being wound up. Look at the conduct of Admiral Murray. We will never know the truth.
I think that refusing to give an extension shows a lack of ethics and does nothing to enhance the public's confidence in this government. It took the armed forces nearly a year to hand over certain documents, and when we look at other commissions of inquiry which went on for five years and were about far less serious matters, one really wonders about the way the present government is behaving. I think we can assume Canadians realize that when the Liberal government decided to wind up this commission, it was clear there were people it wanted to protect, and I do not think Canadians or Quebecers will go along with this.
Mr. Jean H. Leroux (Shefford, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague on his presentation. As you know, he was vice-chairman of the standing committee on national defence. He was also on the joint committee of the House of Commons and the Senate that proposed changes to the Canadian Armed Forces.
I have a question for him. Does he think that the current standing committee on national defence has changed from what he knew of it in the three years he was on it?
They will say anything across the way, but it is a well-known fact that Bloc members share in the activities and work very hard to move things along. I think the member opposite would do better to remain quiet and listen to the question.
I would like to ask my colleague from Charlesbourg whether he thinks the Canadian armed forces have changed? I would like him to explain.
Mr. Jacob: Mr. Speaker, there have indeed been changes. There have been changes in ministers and in chiefs of staff. But I do not think the mentality has changed much. My colleague spoke of the standing committee on national defence. True, the Bloc participated and often made very constructive suggestions. Some of my Liberal colleagues opposite know very well that the Bloc members tried to resolve certain problems and to take part in discussions.
The auditor general's report and other reports indicate that the Department of National Defence was often accused of mismanaging its assets, spending unnecessarily and other things.
I am happy my colleague is allowing me to talk about financial matters. On Monday, the new Minister of National Defence said that all this had cost a lot and that the Bloc was complaining that the Department of National Defence was spending too much money. It will cost $25 million to find out the truth, who is responsible in the chain of command, where the problems lie, how improvements can be made and who is guilty.
The defence committee often pointed out that there were too many generals and that these generals often lacked leadership skills or authority over the soldiers. Very often, the corporals and the ordinary soldiers bear the brunt, while the officers get off lightly.
This happened on a number of occasions. The subject was discussed in the national defence committee.
If the mentality as well as the behaviour is to be changed, I do not think the way to go about it is to decide the commission has dragged on long enough and that it will have time to hear the last witnesses, which is not the case. However, we must, for various reasons such as restoring the armed forces' honour or giving soldiers back their pride, stop living in the past and pretending that Canadian soldiers lived in honour and that everyone is proud of them.
If we go back three or four years, not everyone is proud of what went on in the army. I do not think everyone is proud of the money spent for various reasons. With a little effort, the government could change all that.
Hon. Douglas Young (Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in today's debate.
When I hear my colleagues from the Bloc Quebecois talk about integrity, harp on what happened in Somalia, and repeat the litany of problems every Canadian knows only too well, I have trouble reconciling this preoccupation with whether or not the Canadian Forces have any ethics with the Bloc's approach.
My hon. colleagues mentioned the issue of leadership in the Canadian forces, I agree with them, there are problems. We will have to find ways to address them. Do the hon. members from the Bloc Quebecois expect us to apply the same ethics, the same behaviour to the Canadian forces as they did to their former leader's staff?
Should we fire people in order to compensate them? Is this the kind of ethics they are promoting here today by preaching at Canadians, the government, members of the Canadian Forces? Are they not the same people who, when there is a referendum, are trying to create a rift within the Canadian forces with alleged plots?
Is this the kind of integrity the Canadian forces should emulate? I hope not. Probably because the two hon. members who spoke today will not be candidates in the race to the Bloc Quebecois leadership, they do not apply the kind of ethics which has been reported in the medias lately.
I think the important thing that Canadians have to address here today is whether we as a country are going to benefit from the production of historical documents well into the end of this century based on an incident that took place in 1993.
I refer to a document that reflects comments made on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation national news, January 13, 1997. The CBC, in doing its own calculation, looking at the agenda of the Somalia inquiry, looking at the time frame that it wished to cover, looking at its own work plan, arrived at the conclusion that proceeding at the rate that it had up until the date of this broadcast it would take the commission approximately six years to complete its work. That is not the government's view. It is an assessment made by the CBC in dealing with this issue.
I have said before and I say again that Canadians who are interested in what occurred in Somalia know who pulled the trigger. They know that the incidents in Somalia were totally unacceptable. We know there were severe weaknesses in leadership. We know there were serious flaws in how we responded to what occurred in Somalia with respect to the military justice system, how the military investigation was conducted. We understand that.
I believe the Canadian forces and Canada as a country have to move on and turn the corner on this issue by no longer necessarily just repeating the litany of events that we all know too well but beginning to grapple with solutions.
I am acutely aware of the tremendous burden we are placing on the men and women of the Canadian forces. I have just returned from Bosnia. It is of no value to anyone in Bosnia who is walking the streets of devastated towns looking at children with hollow eyes to tell them that we are conducting or we are going to extend the final date of the Somalia inquiry. Those men and women want to know what people in this place are going to do to ensure that they are trained properly, that they are equipped properly, that they have guidelines and frameworks within which they can function.
What the government has done and what I have committed to do is present to the Prime Minister of Canada, to the Government of Canada and to the people of Canada by March 31, 1997 a comprehensive plan and a set of proposals on how we can move ahead with restoring the integrity and the pride of one of the finest military institutions in the world.
That is a considerable challenge. We expect to be assessed, we expect the recommendations to be analysed and we are trying to draw in as much support as we can from as wide a population in the country as possible.
Unlike my hon. friends this morning, I believe the one solid foundation on which we can proceed is the enormous reservoir of public support for the men and women in the Canadian forces. There is no question that Canadians are disgusted by what happened in Somalia. There is no doubt that they question the quality and the training of some of the leadership that has been around in the Canadian forces for a number of years.
Does it serve any purpose in terms of the objective of providing Canada with a very efficient and capable military institution to simply recite the problems that we know a great deal about, or would it be useful for the Bloc Quebecois and for other hon.
members in this House representing all parties in the House to set forward their views on what we should be doing?
To be very fair about this and not to try in any way to minimize what occurred in Somalia, what occurred before Somalia or what occurred after the incidents were discovered, we still have to look at the overall context in which the Canadian forces operate. A peacetime environment; some would say yes. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, if you were in Bosnia today it would not look very peaceful, although day to day it is these days, but when you see the devastation you know how quickly that situation could become very dangerous again.
We have Canadian forces in Haiti. The Canadian forces are as much a part of the image of Canada as the Rocky Mountains or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, wherever one goes in the world. With all the problems we have encountered, when they are put in the context of young men and women risking their lives all over the planet and seeing how other military institutions have had to function in these similar kinds of environments, I am not excusing the very serious mistakes we have made in the past. What I am saying is fair minded Canadians, and they are fair minded people, will understand that on balance the Canadian forces are still one of the most highly respected military institutions in the world.
We can spend a lot of time debating whether inquiries in this country should be constituted on the basis that once they begin they have carte blanche to go to the end of whatever they feel is an appropriate level of inquiry. I do not dispute that. If this place decides through legislation that when inquiries are established they can continue until the commissioners of inquiry, all the parties involved and their legal counsel are satisfied that every document has been looked at, every issue has been addressed and every question has been asked, if that is what the Canadian people and people in this place wish to do we should debate that.
To make sure to put the record straight, this commission was established on March 30, 1995. The original reporting deadline to which the commissioners agreed when they accepted to undertake this work was December 20, 1995. We are now in the process of debating whether a third extension was appropriate. It was extended until the end of June of this year, the third extension. The first extension was to June 20, 1996. The second extension is to March 31, 1997, and now a third extension to June 30, 1997. The commission will have work in excess of two years by the time it is asked to bring in its conclusions.
I understand the frustration of the commissioners and I understand the concerns of members of this place when they say they will not have heard every witness, they will not have been able to see every document and they will not have been able to address every question. What we must hear from my friends, which I hope we will hear in the discussion today not only on the basis of the Somali inquiry but in terms of future arrangements of this nature, is whether we develop a process that is absolutely open ended until everyone is satisfied that everything has been done. If that is what people are prepared to propose then I believe at some point we should debate that in this place because it has enormous implications.
What about the people who are in leadership roles? We have heard of individuals who have been reassigned and named to new positions. What will happen if we get a report seven, eight or ten years after events? As an historical document it may have some value but in terms of applying the lessons learned from the mistakes that occurred, of what value will they be? Where will the people be who were in control and in leadership? Worse than that, what happens in the interim to these people? Nothing? We have chosen to move on.
I want to make clear that we have never said who should be called before the commission. I have never commented on testimony heard before the commission. I have never commented on the work plan or the agenda of the commission because I have been around long enough to know that Canadians understand that the incidents in Somalia that resulted in the deaths of the Somalians killed by Canadians are unacceptable.
We also know, as my colleagues would be aware, that we have had murder trials in this country where more than three, sometimes more than five and in fact more than ten people have been killed. These trials, looking into the events involved in murders committed in this country, have taken place in a matter of months, not years. I believe that Canadians who understand what is important with respect to the Canadian forces recognize that the government had to come to a decision after three extensions to set a final date on inquiry.
I would also point out to my hon. friends in this place that recently another inquiry in a provincial jurisdiction was given an extension looking into a matter of great importance in a province in this country. When the provincial government in question provided the extension for the inquiry it also set a final date for reporting.
I understood that it was very much in the same position as we were. It did not want a historical document on what had occurred and why it had occurred years after the fact. It wanted to be able to move with some solutions to the questions with which it was faced.
We indicated to the Canadian people through several mechanisms our concern about what had happened in Somalia. However, to be very honest, a number of other events clearly indicated that
serious measures had to be undertaken with respect to the future of the Canadian forces.
I was very pleased when the retired chief justice of the supreme court, Brian Dickson, took on the job of reviewing the military justice system. A lot of what is so bad about the Somalia incident, as brutal as the murders were-God knows there is no excuse for that-what happened afterward was equally if not more troubling in the sense that the system did not respond adequately.
The investigative system did not respond adequately. The military justice system has not responded adequately. We have empanelled and empowered a group of outstanding Canadians, along with Mr. Justice Dickson, J. W. Bird and General Belzile to come to the government with specific and comprehensive recommendations on the reform of the military justice system and commentary on how best to exercise the capacity of investigation that is now done by the military police.
In addition to that, we will be reporting to the Prime Minister and to the people of Canada on accountability in the Canadian Armed Forces, on the system of promotions, on a wide ranging questioning of ethos and ethics in the military.
Beyond that, the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs has been asked to look at what I describe as the people needs of the Canadian Armed Forces; looking at benefits, at support systems for families, at accommodation and all the socioeconomic requirements of the Canadian Armed Forces.
All of this has been done in the last couple of months in response to the wide array of challenges facing the Canadian forces. I have great faith in the Canadian people and I have great faith in the Canadian forces but I also have enormous respect for this place.
That is why I hope, through this process today and also in the weeks to come, we will get concrete proposals from my colleagues in this place on what they think should be done with the Canadian forces, not simply to continue an inquiry into an incident that we are very familiar with, but to tell us, in a concrete way whether they are committed, for example, to funding for the Canadian forces.
Are they committed to the kinds of levels that we have established for personnel: 60,000 in the regular forces and 30,000 in the militia reserves? Are they committed to the re-equipping of the Canadian forces? Do they believe we should be spending money on making sure that we have a combat capable military institution and organization that can adequately represent Canada around the world as we are called on by our allies to participate in various kinds of missions?
Are they prepared to say to the men and women of the Canadian forces-it is important to hear this today-what is the position of the various parties. If they were elected, would they reopen the Somalia inquiry? Are they serious about saying it is in the best interests of the Canadian forces to continue the Somalia inquiry or is it important to move on and learn from the lessons of Somalia and the events that surrounded those incidents?
It is critical because we talk about the morale of the Canadian forces as though somehow, by saying things here or elsewhere that reflect specific concerns about incidents, this is going to help.
I have had the great privilege of being the Minister of National Defence since October. I have visited nearly every base in Canada and I have travelled with the troops in Bosnia. I say without equivocation, not just based on my personal observations but having been exposed to my colleagues in NATO, having met with our NORAD allies in the United States, that every Canadian should feel absolutely comfortable about recognizing and respecting the role, the capability and the professionalism of the Canadian forces.
There is no doubt that the incidents that my hon. friend related at Petawawa, at Val Cartier, in Somalia and more recently even in Haiti are cause for grave concern. The Canadian forces are an institution made up of tens of thousands of men and women. In every organization in Canada of that size, in every community in Canada of that size, every day there are events that take place that are unacceptable and intolerable. They are criminal acts. They are assaults. They are abuses of privilege, abuses of leadership capacity or roles in life. These things occur everywhere, even in professional hockey. That is not to say that in any way we diminish the importance of what happened or the fact that the events were totally unacceptable.
Canadians are fair minded. They understand and recognize that the Canadian forces cannot be judged any differently or any more harshly than any other group of people in the country. They work in a very different environment. Very few Canadians sign up to put their lives on the line. That is what members of the forces do. They are trained to do things that are not terribly pleasant. They also have to be properly trained to maintain the kind of appropriate relationships among themselves and with the people where they are deployed.
Surely Canadians are not going to accept an argument that says that 125 years or more of service around the world is going to be swept away because in today's society things that may or may not have been acceptable or even heard about years ago are now common knowledge. Surely fair minded Canadians and members of this place understand that the Canadian forces are faced with challenges that very few, including myself, would ever care to undertake on a day to day basis in Bosnia or in Haiti.
I want to say this one thing to my friends in the House. Regardless of what happened in Somalia, we have to ask: Who would the Minister of National Defence want to cover up for? What could have happened that would be more heinous than the beating and shooting of young people in Somalia? Why would it be
political advantageous to me or to the government to shut down the Somalia inquiry from a political point of view?
It has been alleged that the deputy minister of the Department of National Defence at the time of the incident in Somalia used various tactics to somehow confuse the then Minister of National Defence. The then Minister of National Defence subsequently became Prime Minister of Canada and left that person in the role of deputy minister at the Department of National Defence.
I hope that all of my colleagues will be very clear in their presentations with respect to what they believe we and Canada should be doing for the men and women of the Canadian forces. How can we make sure that in the future if any incidents like this should re-occur-and heaven knows we all hope that they will not-how should we respond to them. That is the question and the challenge facing all of us today as far as the Canadian forces and its future is concerned.
Mr. Jean H. Leroux (Shefford, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the minister's comments when he said he was first and foremost a member of Parliament; how fortunate that he could participate in this debate.
On October 9, 1996, the minister said: ``We want a thorough investigation of everything that happened in connection with the situation in Somalia- I am sure all members of this House-and no doubt he included himself-realize that one should not interfere with the work of the commission of inquiry''. Well, to order the end of the inquiry, is that not to interfere with its work?
We are asking the minister and the government to let the inquiry carry on for a few more months. The minister says five or ten years. He talks about a document of historical scope. This is not what we are asking for. We simply ask that they grant an extension so that the inquiry can hear witnesses who have not been heard yet and who, we feel, are crucial to the whole issue.
Today, the minister, calm as always, spoke as an expert and tried to quietly sweep the whole issue under the rug. As you have surely noticed, this is not always the case, but it did happen today. He tried to explain the situation slowly and delicately; he spoke about the grassroots, he tried to appeal to our sympathy for those people in the forces.
We know that the people in the Canadian armed forces are professionals, the members of the official opposition do not question that. We only want to know what is happening because it seems that the rotten apples are in the top brass. They way things stand now, we will find out what happened before the incident and during the incident, but unfortunately, we will never know what happened after, we will not get to the bottom of the attempted coverup by this government; that is what we are concerned about. That is what Canadians are worried about these days.
Mr. Young: Mr. Speaker, to get back to our trying to cover up what happened, as I said previously, the government agreed to extend the mandate of the Somalia inquiry first until June 28, 1996, then until March 31, 1997 and now until June 30, 1997.
Is the hon. member convinced? Does he have proof that a further extension of three months, six months or nine months will bring us closer to a point where all three commissioners as well as the counsel for the witnesses will sit together and say: ``Yes, we are all agreed, it is all over, we have shed light on everything''.
It is interesting to note that 150,000 documents, totalling two million pages, have been handed over to the inquiry and that more than 100 witnesses have already been heard.
I believe that Canadians genuinely interested in the future of the Canada Armed Forces know full well what happened in Somalia and they want to make sure that our forces can operate in an effective and professional manner in the future. Listing past problems over and over again the problems will not reach that goal, we have to move on to concrete solutions.
Mr. Ian McClelland (Edmonton Southwest, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister a question about ministerial accountability, specifically contempt at the military headquarters level for the civilian authority of the armed forces.
Shidane Arone was tortured and killed on March 16. On March 18, two days later, the chief of defence staff, John Anderson, and the deputy minister, Bob Fowler, briefed the minister saying at that time that an unfortunate incident had happened in Somalia.
The defence minister at the time, Kim Campbell read in Maclean's magazine that there was a suggestion of criminal intent on March 18 at the same time that she was briefed without being told of criminal intent. It was not until March-
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member will have a chance to finish his question after question period. We are into oral statements now.
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS[English]
I have to ask, does the punishment fit the crime? All we have to do is look at the repercussions of Bill C-41. It was intended to deal with petty criminals who pose no threat to the community but the reality is that it has been used in cases involving drug trafficking, sexual assault, bank robbery and other assaults. These convicts, in some cases, are serving nothing more than house arrest.
It is obvious we have to define who is a threat to society and that the punishment should be in line with the crime. This grain farmer in no way is a threat to society. Certainly he does not deserve the threat of jail time to be served in the same cell block with other criminals as wheat farmer, Andy McMechan, served.
Why is it the heavy hand of the law punishes law-abiding citizens who are merely fighting for the principle of freedom while violent criminals walk free?
* * *[Translation]
Self-employed people were responsible for many new jobs created in 1996. Yet, the government is doing nothing to help them. The new unemployment insurance reform is supposed to give wider coverage to workers, but this is only deception. In fact, these new jobs that are emerging for self-employed people are protected neither by unemployment insurance nor by the vast majority of social security programs.
The Liberals were elected under the slogan ``jobs, jobs, jobs''. The fact is there are ``no jobs, no jobs, no jobs''. When Canadians and Quebecers realize that the situation is disastrous, they will pass harsh judgment, and the government will pay the price.
As the Minister of Finance prepares his budget, I would urge that he stay the course. We need to eliminate the deficit as soon as is reasonably possible. Now is not the time for irresponsible Reform Party inspired tax cuts which will slow the decrease in the deficit or compromise essential programs.
Eliminating the deficit will ensure that our children and our seniors have a secure economic future.
I am proud to have supported the Minister of Finance's deficit reduction targets in the past three years and look forward to his presentation of another successful budget on February 18.
* * *
For example, in my constituency of Dauphin-Swan River, more than $9 million has been invested. These types of projects have included road repairs, the development of water systems, culvert replacements and the construction of bridges.
The Canada infrastructure program is a great benefit to rural areas. Almost 62 per cent of the projects were for rural Canada.
In order to market our goods and services locally and abroad, another program is necessary for our communities' continued development.
The Canada infrastructure works program is contributing to a stronger rural Canadian economy, including my riding of Dauphin-Swan River, and that is what I am working toward.
Without a doubt the Canada infrastructure works program is a major accomplishment.
* * *
The double tracking of Canadian Pacific between Winnipeg and Thunder Bay is being torn up. This was a wonderful infrastructure program that was the pride of many previous governments to speed up the delivery of grain, potash, sulphur and so on. Along with this we are watching the deterioration of the terminals in Thunder Bay and the tearing down of some of them. This was the big infrastructure program the country was so proud of. The seaway has now become redundant. It has been described by transport officials as a wonderful heritage park.
If the government were truly interested in jobs and infrastructure, it would have taken more care with its other policies of deregulation and of signing international trade agreements which have made those infrastructure investments redundant and useless.
* * *[Translation]
The main players in development are the developing countries themselves. It is within their governments, their volunteer organizations, their institutions and their communities that the real development experts are to be found.
However, in co-operating with these partners, Canadians have also done their share. From Peru to Zimbabwe, Canadian technologies and communication equipment have freed many communities from their isolation. By providing legal support, the Canadian program has helped countries such as Haiti and South Africa develop laws to ensure the respect of human rights and of the rule of law.
In our typically Canadian way-which respects countries and cultures and aims at concrete results-we have helped developing countries. International development week is the opportunity to celebrate these achievements and to anticipate future successes.
* * *[English]
In 1995, the Governments of Canada and Ontario agreed to jointly fund the replacement of the ferries that provide service to the islands, an improvement essential to economic development. The Government of Ontario, a Conservative government, now refuses to honour its commitments in spite of the fact that transportation is a provincial jurisdiction.
This is not unlike the unilateral and arbitrary decision made by the Government of Ontario to renege on the agreement reached with the First Nations on the distribution of the Casinorama's revenues.
An agreement is an agreement. It is sad enough that our history is littered with agreements we did not honour but it is an outrage that agreements with the ink barely dry are being unilaterally and summarily dismissed.
* * *[Translation]
The Séguin family, of Saint-André-d'Argenteuil, is a model of love, courage and dedication. Two of the Séguin children, Sylvie and Patrick, have muscular dystrophy. For their parents, caring for them is a full time job. Patrick no longer has the use of his upper limbs. His condition requires constant care and assistance, as spinal muscle atrophy causes severe muscle tissue degeneration.
Sylvie is a bit more independent; still the condition of her lungs is extremely fragile. Mr. and Mrs. Séguin have invested time, energy and money. Without the assistance of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, they would not have been able to buy all the necessary equipment.
To give to the associations and foundations providing assistance to those suffering from this disease is to recognize their courage.
* * *[English]
As an employer I hired people based on ability and merit. Some of these people are called visible minorities here in Ottawa but I did not notice. As an instructor I had students who had different
coloured skin or spoke with different accents but I did not notice. We have members of our family who have different racial backgrounds but we love and care for them and do not notice. My wife and I were especially proud that our son and daughter-in-law worked as volunteers in Rwanda. They looked after 400 beautiful children whose parents were killed in the awful conflict over there.
I joined and became involved in the Reform Party because I was attracted to its policy of equality for all citizens regardless of race. I believe in being charitable and kind. How I wish my colleagues in this House would extend this same charity to me.
* * *
This shortsighted proposal to reduce insulation in new homes is advocated by the Ontario Home Builders' Association. Instead of yielding to this lobby, the Ontario government should act in the interests of future homeowners and the environment to ensure that the building code becomes more energy efficient and respectful of environmental concerns and consumers.
* * *
Yesterday the President of the Treasury Board announced that a multi-sectoral committee of stakeholders has been formed to study this issue with a view to easing the burden on businesses caused by the imposition of service fees.
I congratulate the minister for making this commitment to review fishing and related fees. He has my full support in this undertaking.
On Wednesday, Len Birchall received from His Excellency the Governor General the fifth clasp to his Canadian forces decoration. He is the first Canadian ever to have been so honoured. The clasp recognizes 62 years of good service in the Canadian Armed Forces.
As his member of Parliament, I was privileged to witness this event. As Canadians, we salute his service to his community, his patriotism and his valour. Len Birchall is a great Canadian hero.
* * *[Translation]
On January 15, this goaltender recruited by the Pittsburgh Penguins broke Ken Dryden's legendary record by winning his first 16 games in the National Hockey League, with three shutouts as a bonus.
He pursued his dream without ever giving up hope, putting all his energy into his work. He made his way up the ladder of success one step at a time, with courage and confidence, reaching for his goal. Patrick's feat reminds us that no dream is out of reach for those who put in the time and effort.
I wish Patrick Lalime a long and successful career in the NHL. We are proud of you, Patrick.
* * *[English]
tion. One by one they were forced to succumb to linguistic engineering: the civil service, Parliament, the armed forces, crown corporations, and yes, even the RCMP.
Over the years the billions of dollars spent have added $50 billion to the federal debt, all in the guise of promoting national unity. I have not even mentioned the weekly chauffeur driven limousine service between Ottawa and Montreal for the languages commissioner, courtesy of the Canadian taxpayers.
Now the twins from Quebec are talking of granting distinct society to the separatists. My gosh, what else will they give the separatists to keep them in Canada, the rest of the country?
What this distinctly Canadian dilemma deserves is a fresh start, Reform's fresh start.
* * *[Translation]
Team Canada's visit to Thailand turned out to be beneficial to this Quebec business, which currently employs 85 people. The company signed an agreement with a Thai partner to jointly build a production facility in Bangkok. FRE Composites will provide the new venture with its manufacturing technology and its skills. The project is estimated at $4 million.
Team Canada opened the doors for this Quebec company to export its state-of-the-art technology. This, dear Bloc members, is another example of the benefits to be gained from being part of the Canadian team.
* * *[English]
Eighty-one year old Air Commodore Leonard Birchall was one of the 52 distinguished with the Order of Military Merit and is the first Canadian to receive the fifth clasp to the Canadian forces decoration, signifying 62 years of honourable military service to Canada.
While on a reconnaissance patrol on April 4, 1942, Squadron Leader Birchall sighted Japanese ships swiftly moving in for a surprise attack on Ceylon. He alerted the British fleet of the impending attack but was then shot down and taken as a Japanese prisoner of war.
As the senior prisoner, he made continual although not always successful efforts to protect his fellow prisoners from brutality. For his efforts he was awarded the British Empire Medal for Gallantry and Winston Churchill dubbed him the saviour of Ceylon.
I am sure this House joins me in congratulating Len Birchall.
* * *(1115)
All these regulations have a price, which is paid directly or indirectly by the public, mainly consumers, who find they have to pay a lot of money for services. It is obvious that the problem of clandestine work will get worse.
The time has come to implement reforms to make clandestine work unappealing, not only for workers, but also for consumers. One of the first measures should be that all bidders who are awarded government contracts comply with the law and be subjected to a compulsory verification.
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD[Translation]
Twenty-two groups from the cultural sector of Canada and of Quebec, representing 900,000 workers, have unanimously petitioned the Canadian government to maintain and strengthen existing cultural protection measures. This request comes on the heels of the statement by the Minister for International Trade that cultural protection measures that have been around for 30 years are going to be scrapped.
Yesterday, the Deputy Prime Minister told us that cabinet was unanimous on the cultural question. If that is the case, how can she explain the statements by her colleague at international trade, who said that the rules of Canadian ownership and Canadian content are obstacles to the cultural development of Canada and of Quebec?
Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I think that when we respond unanimously to the demands of cultural groups this morning, it is by saying that we wish to do everything we can not just to strengthen existing cultural protection, but to improve it for the twenty-first century.
We know that we are living in a time of turbulent change, and we want to be prepared and to be on the cutting edge when it comes to new cultural possibilities, as we were when we became the first country to set up a CRTC.
Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata, BQ): Mr. Speaker, we were perhaps the first country in the world to set up a CRTC, but we are perhaps also the first country in the world to have sold ourselves down the river, when we look at what happened with Ginn Publishing, Power DirecTv and DMX.
Given what went on in the past, how can the Deputy Prime Minister expect us to believe her when she tells us that her government is defending the cultural sovereignty of Quebec and of Canada?
Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the question asked by the hon. member deserves a very serious answer because Canadian culture gives us two opportunities as a country. First is it tells our story to ourselves which is essential for our survival as a country. Second is it creates almost a million Canadian value added knowledge based jobs.
When we came in as a government three and a half years ago, we pledged to do everything possible to create Canadian jobs for Canadians. One of the great success stories in Canadian job creation over the last decade has been the cultural sector. Certainly we are going to be working very closely with all departments to make sure that not only do Canadian cultural jobs continue to grow but most important that Canadians have the opportunity to tell Canadian stories to ourselves.
Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata, BQ): Mr. Speaker, really, I think the Deputy Prime Minister is living on another planet. Her government has not created jobs, jobs, jobs in the cultural area. It has cut, cut, cut those jobs, with all the funding it took away from the NFB, Telefilm Canada and the CBC, to name a few. Enough is enough.
When the American secretary likes what the Minister of International Trade is saying, we have a problem.
The heritage minister seems to be the only one in cabinet who thinks that measures are necessary to protect and develop the Canadian and Quebec cultures. Can she guarantee the House that she will give it her full attention?
Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Yes, Mr. Speaker.
* * *
Can the Minister of Canadian Heritage explain to us the difference between the Reform Party, who wants to cut budgets by a third, and her own government, which has already cut the CBC budget by a third?
Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first of all, it is incorrect to claim that we have cut the CBC budget by a third, Second, we have followed the advice of the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata, who said on March 16 1995: ``If any cuts are needed, there are big ones to be made at CBC''. That is what we did, we followed the advice of the member for Rimouski-Témiscouata.
Mr. Jean H. Leroux (Shefford, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the newspaper headlines spoke of an ``Unprecedented crisis at CBC''. Need I remind the minister of the words of her colleague at National Defence, who said the existence of the CBC is no longer justified?
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Leroux (Richmond-Wolfe): Mr. Speaker, concerning the abolished positions, the Minister of Canadian Heritage is showing her total lack of consideration for the CBC and its employees. Last December 15, she claimed only 19 people had lost their jobs at CBC, whereas the total is calculated at 4,000.
If the minister really has the CBC's interests at heart, and if she has the unanimous backing of cabinet, will she cancel the $200 million in budget cuts slated for next year?
Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, once again the hon. member's statements are wrong. If the hon. member is really honest when he speaks of cuts, why does he not go and talk to his colleague, the Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications, who has cut half the jobs at Télé-Québec? There were 580 employees in 1995, and only 329 were left in 1996.
We have made some hard decisions, but we have acted fairly, and have made fewer cuts and abolished fewer positions than his colleague, the Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications cut at Télé-Québec.
* * *[English]
When it came to the tainted blood deaths and the murder cover-up in Somalia, the Liberals were very eager to investigate Tory wrongdoing. However, when the inquiry started to get too close for Liberal comfort and too close to the top, there were government induced delays, government induced legal challenges, document tampering by government officials and political interference.
In the case of the Somalia inquiry, after the government had caused half of the delay, it tells the commissioners they are out of time.
What is the government going to do to ensure that Canadians learn the truth, the whole truth and not just the Tory truth about the tainted blood tragedy, the Somalia scandal and the botched airbus investigation?
Hon. Douglas Young (Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I think the time is rapidly coming to a point where the hon. leader of the Reform Party is going to have to state clearly what his view of inquiries should be.
As I have alluded to on a number of occasions in this place, in September he was asking us to guarantee that we would close down the Somalia inquiry before the election was held.
To go beyond that, it is very important for the Canadian people to know whether the leader of the Reform Party believes that once an inquiry has begun it should be allowed to continue until everyone who is involved with the inquiry, either as a commissioner, a party or a lawyer, is satisfied that everything has been done. If that is the position the hon. leader of the Reform Party is taking, then he should say so because it has huge implications for Canadians and for inquiries to get to the truth in a reasonable amount of time.
Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the minister does not answer my question, but I believe he makes reference to my remarks to the Prime Minister when I asked him to guarantee that the results of the Somalia inquiry would be made available before the next election; not half a report, not a cover-up report, not a whitewash report but results that answer the questions.
Does the minister understand the word results: names, dates, times, acts committed, acts not committed by ministers, Liberal and Tory, deputy ministers, generals, high ranking officials who had anything to do with murder and cover-up in Somalia?
How can the minister guarantee that those results, the whole truth, will be forthcoming from an inquiry when government induced delays and political interferences are making it impossible for it to complete its work?
Hon. Douglas Young (Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, a lot of Canadians are paying a lot of attention to this. I want to make sure, again, that I provide the opportunity to the leader of the Reform Party to explain to this place and to Canadians what he really means.
What he said on September 17 was: ``To ensure there is no ultimate cover-up in the Somalia inquiry, will the Prime Minister guarantee to this House that the results of the Somalia inquiry will be made fully public before the next election?''
He can play all the semantic games he wants. He knows that you cannot go to an inquiry and force it to hear witnesses it does not want to hear; nor can you force it to give results before the election if the inquiry is not over. Results are provided when the work is done, and that is what we have asked it to do.
Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the minister, as is his custom, resorts to bluster and fluster to avoid the real question, what the government has done from day one on Somalia and on Krever and on the botched airbus investigation.
If I had to sum up the Liberal government's approach to integrity and accountability-and that is what we are getting at-I would have to say that it has gone from the red book to whitewash. The Americans have Whitewater; what we have here is whitewash. Answers to the Krever inquiry, whitewash; answers to what happened in Somalia, whitewash.
Why has the government chosen to whitewash the facts rather than give Canadians the truth about the tainted blood scandal and the Somalia murder cover-up?
Hon. Douglas Young (Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, sooner or later my hon. friend, the leader of the Reform Party, is going to have to decide how he wants to do this.
This is the manual prepared by the Reform Party to guide it through question period and its strategy for this session. This is a direct quote from section 13 of the Reform manual: ``Questions should not be used to get straight information. That is a primitive use of question period that we have now passed''.
What is the point of trying to get to the bottom of something when the leader of the Reform Party says that he does not want any straight answers? The shame of it is he cannot even ask a straight question.
* * *[Translation]
Yesterday, the Supreme Court gave its decision on the disclosure of the victim's records in sexual cases. In a five to four decision, the majority of the justices ordered a stay of proceedings in a case of sexual assault, because a rape crisis centre had destroyed the records of the victim, which the accused had requested in his defence.
How is it that the bill introduced in June 1996, which was intended to severely limit access to victims' records, has not yet been passed? This bill was introduced in June 1996, and still today the minister has done nothing to move it along. Will the minister do anything to hasten the passing of this bill?
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member said, Bill C-46 was introduced in June to resolve all issues relating to personal records for complainants in criminal matters before the courts.
Last Tuesday, we began debate at second reading of this bill. I hope that in the coming days and weeks we will complete debate at second reading and be able to send the bill to committee.
Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier-Montcalm, BQ): Mr. Speaker, since June 1996, the Supreme Court has had time to hand down two decisions against victims. I can assure the minister of the full co-operation of the official opposition in passing Bill C-46 as quickly as possible.
Will the minister undertake to have Bill C-46 passed before the next election to ensure victims of sexual crimes enjoy full protection?
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I undertake to do everything within my power to ensure that the bill is passed as quickly as possible.
* * *[English]
Victims of this tragedy want to know why the shredder was rewarded with a golden handshake instead of being punished, for surely wrong is wrong.
Mr. Joseph Volpe (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I wish the member would pay some attention to what the government has done to this point.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Volpe: It is not a priority of the Reform Party to have members in government respect to due process. What the member will appreciate is that the department followed all the guidelines dictated by-
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Volpe: I gather you do not want the answer, but I am going to give it to you anyway. It may not come down all that well. The department has co-operated both with the inquiry and with the commissioner with respect to access to information and in all cases complied fully.
What the member will also want to appreciate is that the department had in its possession a preliminary report on December 3, which is incumbent on governments. Members will appreciate that kind of report has to satisfy the requirements under the Access to Information Act which says that all investigations must be conducted in private. Those under investigation have a right to have a normal lifestyle until there is a final report.
Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary talks about co-operation with the inquiry. Listen to the story that comes out of the commissioner's attempt to get at the facts on the shredding.
The first thing the department did was try to block him in court with a legal challenge. The second thing the department did was lie to him to say that the documents did not even exist. Now the commissioner has to go back. He is inquiring about why it blocked him.
The victims simply ask one thing: why is this government continually blocking the truth for them, not for me but for them?
Mr. Joseph Volpe (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the hon. member opposite would try to draw sympathy for a very tragic situation.
He will recall-and if he does not, other members will-that it was Liberal Party members on this side of the House who called for the Krever inquiry in the first place. Second, they insisted it have access to all the information. Third, the department did comply. The hon. Minister of Health ensured all information would come forward.
All the preliminary recommendations from the Krever inquiry were complied with immediately as they related to the federal government. The only questions that came out of the Krever inquiry led to this question. Once the Minister of Health received the final report he acted on it immediately. That was on January 21 and on January 30 he handed that final report to the solicitor general.
There is no cover-up. Wake up.
* * *[Translation]
On the issue of the cancellation of the Pearson airport privatization deal, the transport minister confirmed that the government is ready to settle out of court with the Pearson developers. Also, we have learned that more than four tentative out of court settlements had been negotiated between the developers and the federal government but that, each time, the deal was rejected by the prime minister's office.
Will the government acknowledge that it is secretly negotiating with the Pearson developers an out of court settlement that could cost between $85 million and $100 million to Quebec and Canadian taxpayers?
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question is based on a number premises which in fact are totally speculative and in many cases wrong.
I can assure him that I have absolutely no knowledge of any negotiations currently taking place with Pearson airport's T1 and T2 corporation.
Obviously in any legal dispute there is the possibility of a settlement. As a general rule it is in the best interest of parties to arrange for settlement out of court. But I have absolutely no knowledge of any such discussions taking place at the present time. The question simply is based on false information and is inaccurate.
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, BQ): Mr. Speaker, will the minister acknowledge that the government's current strategy is to play for time before the next elections, even if that could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars more?
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I do not understand why the Bloc which up to now has had a much more precise and specific approach to this question should now be adopting Reform Party tactics.
The assumption that there are hundreds of millions of dollars out there which are simply going to be picked up by this consortium is false. Were it true that the company is losing all this money it would obviously mean at the same time that the contract that was originally signed was not one in good faith, not one that should have been signed. The government in declaring that was against the public interest is entirely correct.
* * *
In fact, according to G-7 figures Japan, the U.S. and Britain all have far better records with respect to unemployment than Canada has. Canada's unemployment rate at 9.7 per cent today is much higher than the OECD average of 8.5 per cent.
For the 76th month in a row we have had unemployment well above 9 per cent. The Liberals have had three and a half years to fix this problem. How in the world can the finance minister explain the government's disastrous performance in keeping its promise of jobs, jobs, jobs?
Hon. Douglas Peters (Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the question the hon. member raises is one of extreme importance. Jobs are the priority for our government. The labour force survey that just came out which showed only an increase of 5,000 jobs in the last month was disappointing.
But let me add that there are some very positive items in that report. There were 32,000 full time jobs created last month. There have been 91,000 jobs created since last September, just in the last few months. Almost all the forecasters indicate that this year will be a strong job growth year, a strong economic growth year.
Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, that is fine rhetoric, but frankly it does not pay the rent. I would suggest that the only jobs the minister is concerned about are Liberal jobs, which is why there is such a theme of cover-up in this place.
In three and a half years the government has raised taxes 35 times. It sucked up another $24 billion from taxpayers. That is the reality.
When is the finance minister going to get it through his head that the high tax policies in this country are killing Canadian jobs?
Hon. Douglas Peters (Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, when are members of the Reform Party going to get it through through their heads that lowering taxes for the wealthy and increasing taxes for the poor is not going to create jobs. It is going to destroy jobs. That is the basis for the tax policy of the Reform Party.
The policies of the government have created almost 800,000 jobs in the past three years and that is a good record.
* * *
One of the recommendations of the recent task force on disability issues calls on the Department of Human Resources Development to recommit itself to delivering mainstream programs in a way that includes Canadians with disabilities.
What actions have been or will be taken by the department to assure Canadians with disabilities that commitment will hold true throughout the department, throughout the regions and throughout local HRD offices across Canada.
Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has always taken a leadership role in addressing the interests of persons with disabilities. We had a very impressive task force on which the member for Fredericton-York-Sunbury has actually helped us. I thank him very much for his creativity and for his advice on this issue.
That is the reason why the vocational rehabilitation of disabled persons program received an extension until March 1998. We have made assisting persons with disabilities one of the key priorities of the work of the Ministerial Council on Social Policy Reform and Renewal in tasks that we are doing with the provinces as well.
In addition, I have tasked my senior officials to develop action plans for HRDC to ensure that we move forward and integrate the disability issues across all of our programs and all of businesses across the country.
The present Prime Minister, in referring to the privatization of Pearson airport during the last election campaign, said that the promoters would, and I quote, ``initiate projects that would be worth up to $200 million annually''. However, lawyers for the federal government are now in court to try and prove that the profits of private promoters at Pearson were in no way excessive, but their experts claim that the promoters could have lost as much as $180 million.
Are we to conclude from the government's defence in the Pearson saga that Ottawa cancelled an agreement that would have been profitable for Canadian taxpayers and for travellers, and all this simply to support the partisan commitments of the Prime Minister?
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this question and others from the Bloc Quebecois indicate that Bloc members fail to understand what the Pearson case is all about.
The previous government negotiated a less than perfect agreement on Pearson with a private company. As soon as it came to power, our government tried to repair the damage that was done by cancelling the agreement. We have just ceded Pearson to a non-profit airport authority, like the ones in Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and other locations.
We have never stopped saying we will accept only a fair agreement between the complainants and the taxpayers.
Mr. Roger Pomerleau (Anjou-Rivière-des-Prairies, BQ): Mr. Speaker, we realize that all this may cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, without ever getting at the truth of the matter, as in other cases now being pursued.
Why will the minister not admit that his government preferred to make some political hay out of attacking the Conservatives in this petty way instead of getting down to the bottom of all this and ordering a public inquiry, something the Bloc Quebecois has been demanding for more than three years? Is the present government afraid that a public inquiry would reveal cases of patronage among Liberals as well as Conservatives?
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member and his party still fail to understand the present situation. The complainants are more interested in obtaining compensation for what they see as foregone profits. Their demands are unreasonable.
The government twice introduced legislation to provide for an acceptable settlement, legislation that was defeated in the Senate with its Conservative majority.
I repeat that we do not intend to pay compensation for so-called profits that did not materialize and which are totally hypothetical.
* * *[English]
Grain movement on the prairies is at a standstill, causing farmers real hardship. The government removed the Crow subsidy on grain freight, more than doubling farmers' freight costs with a promise that things would work better. Does the agriculture minister believe that things are working better, as he promised?
Hon. Ralph E. Goodale (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, obviously the linkage the hon. gentleman draws between the former Crow subsidy and the situation with grain movement currently on the prairies is not a valid or appropriate linkage at all.
As I indicated yesterday in the House in response to a question from the NDP, the facts are that we have had a very difficult winter season, with heavy snowfalls and particularly cold temperatures. I went on to observe that that in itself cannot be regarded as a valid excuse.
The railways have an obligation to provide sufficient locomotive power to pull the grain from the prairies through the Rockies to the port positions and also eastward to Thunder Bay. Obviously the level of performance in the last number of weeks has not been satisfactory and the railways are obliged to do a better job.
Mr. Leon E. Benoit (Vegreville, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, farmers and Reform MPs stressed the importance of dealing with the rail car allocation problem, removing fixed freight rates and making other changes to introduce competition into the system before removing the Crow benefit and before the new transportation act was signed.
The minister refused to do this and must be held accountable. Every day grain does not move farmers pay dearly. What will the minister do to fix this mess that his government has imposed on farmers? What is he going to do to get grain moving again?
Hon. Ralph E. Goodale (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the railways have indicated they are taking steps to add to the locomotive power available in western Canada for grain movement. That is a welcome development. It may not in itself be enough.
I will be consulting with them in the days immediately ahead as well as with other players in the grains industry, including the Canadian Wheat Board, to determine what additional steps can and should be taken to catch up on the backlog and make sure that by the end of this shipping season the backlog has been overcome.
Beyond that, all of the players in the grains industry have to work harder to make sure this does not become a recurring pattern in our grain transportation system. The railways should be aware that it is cold every January, it snows every January and they have to have the machinery in place to cope with it.
* * *
This weekend the minister will be meeting with the leaders of Canada's cultural sector. Could she tell us what she intends to achieve from this meeting?
Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for the question. I know in his capacity as the chair of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage he will be working very hard toward an overarching cultural policy.
Among the things we want to achieve this weekend are to listen to the leaders of the Canadian cultural community, to be open to change and at the same time to reinforce the fact that for the last 25 years we have built a strong critical mass of Canadian artists and Canadian success stories because of the policies we have introduced as a government.
* * *
When is the Solicitor General of Canada going to restore order and discipline by stripping the cells bare, providing only the basics and auctioning off the prisoners' TV and entertainment units to pay for the damage?
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I understand that earlier this week
my hon. colleague, the solicitor general, met with the acting commissioner of corrections to ensure that the matter was fully reported to the solicitor general.
She informed my colleague that she and the director general of security would be at the institution this week to ensure that order is being maintained and that Correctional Service Canada has and is putting in place a plan to ensure the security of the staff as well as the inmates.
Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, people in this country are fed up with government inaction and government sponsored prisoners' rights. Now prison officials are talking about negotiating a settlement, if you will, with the prisoners at Millhaven.
The word of the day is compromise, not responsibility. Negotiations with inmates are absolutely foolhardy.
Why does the solicitor general support criminals and their demands for more rights and not victims' rights? Where is the responsibility?
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I reported to the House, everything is being done to restore order to the prison and to assure the safety and security of staff and inmates.
As the authorities look at solutions to these difficulties, I doubt very much that they will be attracted by the simple minded, medieval and repressive approaches advocated by the hon. member.
* * *[Translation]
The unemployment rate among young people has been a disaster throughout 1996 and appears to be heading for a worse showing this year.
Last march in the budget speech the government announced $315 million over three years for youth programs. A year later, nothing has happened, even though the Minister of Human Resources Development said on October 11, and I quote: ``This fall we intend to announce a youth initiative''. I have the feeling the government is waiting for young people to grow old because one year after it promised new initiatives, we are still waiting.
My question is the same one as six months ago: What is the minister waiting for to release the funds sitting unused in the government's coffers?
Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Lac-Saint-Jean for his extremely timely question.
Youth unemployment is a great concern for the government. This is the reason why the finance minister allocated an additional $315 million to all other programs we have to help young people enter the job market in a more appealing manner.
I must say that the situation of young people looking for work is something we are extremely concerned with. There are are several in my own riding and I know how important it is for young people not to lose hope.
This coming week, we are planning-
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Pettigrew: Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would be pleased to tell the member for Lac-Saint-Jean that the impatience he has been showing will soon be addressed as I made sure that the programs we are going to make public within the next few days will be extremely well designed in partnership with the private sector.
Mr. Stéphan Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I often say that young people are not only our future, they are our present. For once, the minister seems to be telling us that, six months late, he is finally going to announce programs for young people. I am starting to believe that it takes an election for this government to spring into action.
Does the minister not think that he should include all the youth programs, especially their funding, in the ongoing federal-provincial negotiations on active employment measures?
Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be given the opportunity by the member for Lac-Saint-Jean to stress again our government's commitment to disentangle all the issues relating to training and active employment measures aimed at making it easier to enter the job market.
As for the employment programs we are hoping to announce within the next few days, you will see that they are in partnership with the private sector. These programs come very clearly under the federal government's responsibilities, under our constitutional jurisdiction. They will bring hope and help to young Canadians.
What we need in our society is to give young people the opportunity to get experience. As a society we need their exuberance.
With respect to the international trade minister, he certainly brings some common sense to this.
My question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage. At this meeting she is convening of the cultural elite in Canada, is she going to bring some forward thinking via the trade minister? As a matter of fact, has she issued an invitation to the trade minister to attend this meeting so that we can get some common sense for a change?
Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Abbott: Now we are getting some place.
* * *
Why has the government chosen over the past three and a half years to ignore the needs of young Canadians for work?
Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is quite the opposite. The problems of young Canadians who are looking for work are something about which we are extremely concerned and want to do our very best.
The government allocated in the 1996 budget $315 million in supplements to all programs that we have to address their particular needs. I hope to be in a position to shortly announce programs that have been designed, in partnership with the private sector, that address the needs of young Canadians who are looking for work. If they need experience, we as a society can give it to them. We need their exuberance and their education.
As more than 400,000 refugees remain caught in the middle in eastern Zaire, the crisis between government forces and rebels keeps intensifying every day. Humanitarian agencies are evacuating high risk areas, while refugees flee their camps without any assistance or food. The situation is catastrophic, as we could see on television yesterday.
Since the government wanted to take a leadership role when the crisis first started in November, could the Deputy Prime Minister tell us today if her government will be as diligent now that the crisis in Zaire is threatening the safety, and even the lives, of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are still in Zaire?
Hon. Christine Stewart (Secretary of State (Latin America and Africa), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government has a continuing and deep concern about the crisis in Rwanda. It was our hope that with the new government and the return of the refugees. the situation would improve. However, in the last few days we have been alarmed at the massacre of relief workers. It is of great concern to Canada.
We had been prepared to send a further 10 Canadian human rights' monitors to the situation. We have had to suspend sending these very capable Canadians to the situation given the crisis.
I have just come to the House this morning from a consultation with about 200 non-government organizations, academics and government officials to discuss peace building in situations such as that found in Rwanda and the Great Lakes area.
The week after next there will be a debate in the United Nations, in which Canada will participate fully, to discuss the ongoing crisis in Rwanda. We are very concerned. We called in the Rwandan ambassador yesterday. We are doing so again today to discuss this ongoing issue. We will be happy to keep the House abreast of what we are doing.
* * *
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
* * *
He said: Mr. Speaker, this bill flows directly from a chapter in the red book which is dedicated to sustainable development. It is intended to encourage the Export Development Corporation, ministers of the crown, and the governor in council to exercise powers under the Export Development Act and when they do so to promote sustainable development in the exercise of their respective powers.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)
* * *[Translation]
The petitioners call the House's attention to the fact that the national highway policy study identified job creation, economic development and, more importantly, saving lives, preventing injury and much lower congestion as benefits of the proposed national highway program.
I wish to table this petition on behalf of all petitioners.
The first one is signed by 75 constituents of my riding. They are asking Parliament to support a binding national referendum to be held at the time of the next election to ask Canadians whether or not they are in favour of federal government funding for abortions on demand.
Mr. John Maloney (Erie, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions asking that the national highway system upgrading be made possible through government measures.
* * *
The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
* * *[Translation]
Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stages.
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Edmonton Southwest was completing his question.
Mr. Ian McClelland (Edmonton Southwest, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, to refresh the memories of hon. members, this debate has to do with the events which took place in Somalia.
Specifically, I was asking the minister in response to his speech in this debate questions pertaining to ministerial responsibility, the relationship between defence command headquarters, the deputy minister, the chief of defence staff and the then minister of defence, Kim Campbell.
The terrible events of March 16 were reported to the minister by the chief of defence staff, John Anderson, and the deputy minister, Mr. Fowler, on March 18, two days later. At that time the minister of defence was not informed that there was a potential problem with criminality.
The minister of defence subsequently read that at that very time, on March 18, John Anderson had been reported in Maclean's magazine as saying that there was a suspicion of criminal intent from the beginning. That means either the chief of defence staff or the deputy minister misled or were totally incompetent in advising the minister, the civilian authority to whom they were responsible. It was not until March 31, almost two weeks later, that the minister of defence was informed of the events that took place.
That may be incompetence on the minister's part. It may be incompetence on the deputy minister's part. But there was incompetence. It was either gross incompetence or a cover-up to protect the minister.
The deputy minister, Mr. Fowler, retained the confidence of the government and was appointed to a high ranking position at the United Nations. Now either Mr. Fowler was lying or covering up, or he misled, but why would this cover-up have started in the first place and be allowed to continue? And why would a person who was involved in it enjoy the continued confidence of the government?
Mr. Young: Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. gentleman who has put the question is a very, very serious member of Parliament and understands the implications of my trying to comment on the events he has explained. Please let me try to respond. I do not want to be evasive in any way but there are implications to the
statements made by the hon. member that obviously are troubling to the member and to others.
I want to reiterate to the hon. member that there is absolutely nothing which precludes the commissioners of the inquiry calling the current ambassador for Canada to the United Nations, or the former Prime Minister of Canada who is now consul general in Los Angeles, or anyone else. I know it has been suggested that there is not sufficient time. However, even as we speak today there is still a lot of time between now and the end of March with the commission of inquiry to report by the end of June.
Although I have been extremely meticulous in not getting involved in trying to set the agenda in the sense of recommending that witnesses be heard, or commenting on testimony that may be heard or allegations that may have been made, I understand the hon. member's concerns. I think that the appropriate approach to this is for him and members of his party to make clear who they think should be heard from because of the importance of the testimony that might be forthcoming.
I would simply conclude my response to the hon. member by saying that the Minister of National Defence at the time this incident is alleged to have occurred subsequently became the Prime Minister of Canada. Let us be clear that the Prime Minister of Canada at that time, prior to the election of our government in late October of 1993, continued to provide support to that same deputy minister who remained in the position where he was when she was Minister of National Defence. I really do not think I can comment on why that occurred or whether or not there was any fault in the way the deputy minister communicated with the then Minister of National Defence who subsequently became the boss of everyone as the Prime Minister of Canada.
Mr. Jack Frazer (Saanich-Gulf Islands, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, to the minister, I would like to quote Justice Létourneau yesterday with regard to their ability to hear any witness they want to hear. He said: ``It is not true in this respect that we have plenty of time to call witnesses such as Mr. Fowler and Mr. Anderson. Evidence on such important matters presented without the possibility of real or substantial testing risks producing a whitewash of the alleged cover-up rather than an investigation of it''.
I equate the inquiry somewhat to a jigsaw puzzle. In a jigsaw puzzle there is a key piece and once that key piece is in place, the thing makes sense and comes together.
I suggest to the minister that it is not reasonable for the inquiry to go to the witnesses at the end of the chain before they have established the rest of the pattern, so that when they ask their questions they are based on evidence that is directly related to the individual they are questioning.
Mr. Young: Mr. Speaker, I understand this hon. member as well and his deep interest in this matter.
I am very concerned that perhaps there is an implication, and if it is not correct I am sure the hon. member will have ample opportunity to clarify it, that somehow at this stage in February 1997, a long time after the incidents occurred in Somalia, we should still be proceeding on the basis that every witness, every document, every incident should be pursued until all of the parties involved have been included by the commissioners. As the hon. member knows, there are a huge number of witnesses who have been heard, in excess of 100. There are over 50 or 60 lawyers involved on a continuous basis.
I do not believe I can comment on the justices' remarks with respect to how much time they have to call witnesses. There have been witnesses who have been heard for very lengthy periods of time. There have been efforts made to pursue certain avenues that I have never commented on. Surely Canadians understand one thing, that between now and the end of March nothing precludes the commissioners' hearing those people they feel are appropriate in that timeframe based on their own agenda.
If they feel that somehow that would distort or convolute the process that is entirely their prerogative. It is not the view that I hold, nor does the government hold that view. Seriously, if anyone is suggesting that this commission of inquiry should continue until everybody is totally satisfied that every question has been answered to their satisfaction, I do not think anyone believes it would end before the end of this century.
Mr. Jack Frazer (Saanich-Gulf Islands, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to carry on from the minister's comments. I, as much as anyone, wish this inquiry had been concluded a year ago. I certainly do not want to see it extended forever but I do want to see the answers come out. I think it is vital that the inquiry be allowed to complete its business.
I want to go on record and recognize the excellent work our armed forces do. They have been committed in any number of places, uncomfortable, dangerous and far flung. They have committed themselves time and time again to the duty to which they have been assigned. When they commit themselves, they commit themselves very well. It works.
Therefore I think it is a shame that unhappily the Somali debacle has cast a cloud over the whole military force, even for me. After 36 years of service in the air force I left very proud of my service there. I was a senior officer when I left and now I find that people who know this almost ask the question ``were you one of those who covers up and does not accept responsibility and does this?'' Most
senior officers do accept their responsibilities. They are good leaders.
The people who have unhappily been accused in this instance are left sort of hanging out to dry unless their case can be heard in completeness and therefore they can be found either absolutely innocent of any wrongdoing or be found to have been inadequate in some way.
The Liberal government initially resisted the inquiry being compiled at all. It said no, the situation is being investigated by the defence department. It was only when Major Armstrong came forth in November 1994 that the Minister of National Defence at that time was forced to order an inquiry. Even then with the interlude of the Christmas break it was sometime in the following year before he did it and he announced it as an inquiry under the National Defence Act. This means that once again the inquiry would be conducted behind closed doors. It would not be open to the public.
On March 20 I demanded in this House that the investigation be held under the Inquiries Act rather than the National Defence Act. The next day the minister, and I congratulate him for doing so, saw the wisdom of this and changed the inquiry to come under the Inquiries Act, which made it open to the public.
Now we are having the inquiry curtailed when it gets into the final stages of its job. First of all, it was supposed to investigate the deployment to Somali before the predeployment phase, the during phase and the post phase, the after phase. It has completed the predeployment phase. It is nearing the end of its investigation into the deployment phase. But it will not be able to investigate the post-deployment phase because of the arbitrary curtailment of the inquiry put in by the Minister of National Defence.
I see this as blatant political interference in a judicial inquiry. The minister by his action is denying people who have had accusations flung against them to be heard in full, to have justice done them. That seems unfair. Justice Latourneau has said that if he cannot hear people, he will make no judgment. I think that is absolutely right. If we have not given people a chance to testify to be heard, to be examined, then it is not fair to find them.
What this means is that there may be people who are responsible and were responsible who will not be held accountable for their actions. I think that is not fair.
Also, look at what this decision is going to mean to future inquiries. What will people say when they are asked to participate on an inquiry? They will say ``Am I going to get two-thirds of the inquiry? Will I involve myself in this thing which might turn out to be a fiasco that is cut short because of the arbitrary whim of some political minister?'' If that does happen, we are going to lose in Canada a tremendous capability to examine and assure that justice is being done in all aspects of government. It goes to the integrity, the impartiality and the independence of the commission.
The minister mentioned in his comments if the Reform Party wanted to suggest to the commissioners some witnesses we think they should hear. To me that is me interfering with the inquiry. The commissioners have established a standing for various people. I assume they have done that in recognition of the information and the facts this individual has to present to the commission and others have been denied. It is not for me to tell the commissioners how to do their job.
Mr. Speaker, I neglected to mention that I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton Southwest.
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member then will have about four minutes left.
Mr. Frazer: Thank you. Also, I would like to point out that this inquiry has been hamstrung by the very people it is investigating to a large extent. Documents were withheld, information was slow to come forward. Then we had that magic Easter egg hunt where people were shut down for a day and they went through all their files and they amassed a whole gigantic bunch of information that was then presented to the commission. I understand there were absolutely thousands of pages of testimony that the commission then had to do through, page by page, because it cannot overlook anything. It might omit something important. This was a deliberate withholding of evidence for the commission and it caused a delay.
No one doubts that the problem in Somalia was one of command and control. That command and control stretched from the theatre right the way back to national defence headquarters in Ottawa. It also had to do with leadership and discipline. The people on the ground obviously were not properly led nor were they properly disciplined. We are hearing stories of things that went on that are just unacceptable, whether it be in an operational situation or anywhere.
When the murder of Shidane Arone took place, it was in a relatively small compound with at least 80 people in the vicinity who could not have helped but heard what was going on. Yet none of them intervened, and I do not understand why.
Where was the platoon commander, where was the regimental sergeant-major, where was the company sergeant-major, where was the company commander? How could they let this go on and not interfere or intervene? I know there were a number of people who actually went into the bunker and saw this going on and they chose not to take action. This is totally unacceptable and should not have been allowed.
The problem I think is that we cannot fix something we do not know is broken. We have to find out what has gone wrong before we can say ``this is the problem, now we can fix it''. I do not know just how that can be accomplished unless we go right to the end of the chain and say ``This is what happened. This was the input. This
was how it was dealt with''. If the dealing with it was inadequate, then it is only appropriate that we finish it.
I want to go to the minister's comments with regard to my leader's submission. He has mentioned a number of times. I quote the leader of the Reform Party from Hansard on September 17, 1996, page 4308: ``Mr. Speaker, to ensure there is no ultimate cover-up in the Somalia inquiry, will the Prime Minister guarantee to this House that the results of the inquiry will be made fully public before the next federal election?'' In no way does this suggest that the inquiry should be shut down. It merely says completed.
The Prime Minister and his government were elected in October 1993 for five years, which gives them until October 1998. My leader does not call the election; the Prime Minister calls the election, and he can call it whenever he wants to. If he is not afraid of the inquiry coming out, why does he not wait until the inquiry reports and then call the election?
I will now propose an amendment to the motion.
That the motion be amended by deleting all of the words after the word ``inquiry'' and adding the following:
``and directing the commission to make its final report as soon as possible but not later than December 31, 1997''.The Deputy Speaker: The motion is in order.
Mr. Ian McClelland (Edmonton Southwest, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague from Saanich-Gulf Islands, who has over 36 years of military experience, to explore further the notion of the culture that allowed the horrific events of March 16 to happen and the horrific events that took place before March 16.
In the member's military experience is it possible in a closed environment of a military base for a corporal to find himself in a situation in a bunker with nobody else knowing about it, with nobody else accepting responsibility other than one sergeant?
Mr. Frazer: Mr. Speaker, I have said this before and I believe it in my heart. If I had been the commander on scene this would not have happened. It would not have happened because my personnel would have known that I would not allow it to happen. It would not be acceptable to me.
The member for Edmonton Southwest has put his finger on a lot of the problem. Problems were evident in the airborne regiment before it was deployed. These problems were made known to higher headquarters, yet the people who were recommended to be left at home were still taken there. It was one of those people who was recommended to be left at home who was found to have committed the crime.
Obviously there is a problem somewhere along the line.
Was it in Petawawa? Was it at land force headquarters in Ontario? Was it at national defence headquarters? Where was it? I am not sure. I guess the commission has that information. Obviously the military culture does not accept this sort of behaviour as being normal.
What is required is to establish how this aberration happened, how it was allowed to happen and who was responsible for having not taken action to rectify it.
Mr. Ian McClelland (Edmonton Southwest, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in this debate. I want to take it in a slightly different direction and try to put a somewhat more human face on the actual tragedy that befell one particular individual, Kyle Brown.
I would also like to show how the terrible circumstances of March 16, 1993 in Somalia inextricably linked three lives and how these lives were affected so differently as a result of it. There was the Somalia teenager, Shidane Arone, who was tortured and killed, for which there is no excuse; Robert Fowler, who was at that time the deputy minister of defence; and Kyle Brown, who at that time was a corporal in the Canadian Armed Forces serving in Somalia.
I joined the navy when I was 17. When I joined the navy it was really the first time in my life that I learned a sense of brotherhood. It was the first time in my life that I ever felt I was just the same as everyone else because I grew up on the other side of the tracks. As with many people who are in the military for the first time, it is the first time that they really get a foundation. One of the tragedies is the fact that we do not have a military any longer that allows for this kind of involvement, citizenship, renewal and growth.
I want to get back to the specific situation of trooper Kyle Brown. He was born and raised in Alberta. When he was 14 years of age, Kyle's mother died of a drug overdose. A year later his father committed suicide. Kyle Brown and an elder sister raised and helped look after a younger sibling. Kyle Brown was a struggler and a fighter all his life. Kyle Brown did not come from a privileged background. He came from a background that many Canadians come from, of struggle, and joining the Canadian Armed Forces was the pinnacle of his life. He was so proud of this and worked so hard to get in. He did not get in right away. He had to work to get into the armed forces.
I know something of the way the military works, having joined the navy when I was 17. When I saw the results of what had happened in Somalia I thought it was passing strange. It was wrong. There was something inherently not correct in the fact that the lowest ranking member found himself with five years in jail,
yet the very people who allowed the culture to develop got nothing. It just did not seem right.
When I was in the service, if the ship hit an iceberg the captain was at fault. It did not matter who was on the bridge. It had to do with responsibility. It goes all the way up the line to ministerial responsibility. In our culture, in a greater sense, the fact is that we as legislators or leaders accept the mantle of responsibility that comes with leadership we must also accept responsibility.
I initiated a meeting with Kyle Brown because I wanted to speak with him to find out what was going on but, more importantly, I wanted to say to Kyle Brown: ``Look, Kyle, what went on is inexcusable but you are not alone. Some of us know that we all bear some responsibility for what has happened to you''.
I first met Kyle Brown when he was in the Edmonton maximum security penal institution. It was the first time I had ever been in such an institution. I went through all the checks and the clanging doors to get in to see this man. At our very first meeting he was gun shy because everybody he had encountered in a position of authority had screwed him and had worked him over some way: journalists who had used him for a story and had dropped him; the military justice system that screwed him right from the beginning. Kyle Brown, by turning over the film, incriminated himself and prevented a cover-up from happening. This is the individual who by knowingly incriminating himself prevented a cover-up from happening, knowing full well that he would end up carrying the can for it. Nobody else would. He ended up in jail.
I believe that denotes character of the highest order. It is character from a person who did not come from a privileged background. Contrast that to the character of another person involved in this, Robert Fowler. He came from a privileged background. He had a position of high moral authority in our nation. What did he do? He misled the Minister of National Defence, to whom he was responsible, for one reason or another and as a consequence he was left in his position, either because the Prime Minister of the day was incompetent and did not remove him or for another reason. That person is still enjoying the confidence of the government.
I visited the person at the other end of this, the one that showed character by incriminating himself to ensure that a cover-up did not happen. He knew right from the beginning that what was going on was wrong. He knew his participation in it was wrong. He participated in it because of the culture of the regiment of which he was a part. He was a minor serving person.
I saw him in jail. He had tears in his eyes. He said: ``I bear the responsibility for this in the eyes of every single citizen of this country. I am the lowest form of life. I joined the army and when I went to Somalia I wanted to bring honour to our country. I wanted to come back to Canada having brought glory to my country and to my regiment. Instead I am in jail. Other people that were involved in this are scurrying for cover. No one has accepted responsibility''.
The statement which I am about to quote is in response to questions posed at a parole board hearing when Kyle Brown was at Bowden waiting to get out. I would point out as well that Kyle Brown had to pay for his defence himself. His sister went into debt to pay for his defence because he had no confidence in the military justice system. The first two counsel who went to Somalia took the first two people in the line of the people who had been charged. The other four people in line had no defence whatsoever. The first two people got off. The other four got charged. After that, because they are not stupid over there, they realized that anybody who came forward with any information was charged, so no one else came forward with information.
Kyle Brown said at his parole hearing: ``A soldier is taught to obey orders without question. He is also taught that he has the moral obligation not to execute an illegal command''. Kyle Brown has said to me and to others: ``I got what I deserved. I knew better and I should not have done it. I did it. I should have fought to protect him. I was wrong. I accept the punishment I got''. But why the hell did anybody else not end up in jail? Why did the person who allowed the culture to develop not end up in jail? Why is Bob Fowler, who was the deputy minister of defence who misled the defence minister, at the United Nations representing our country?
Kyle Brown said further at his hearing: ``The thing that we are not told is what to do in a situation where superiors not only give illegal commands but execute them''. What do you do in a situation in Somalia where the senior non-commissioned officers are going around drunk? There is no leadership. There is no accountability. Then the lowest ranking member of the armed forces ends up in jail. What kind of a signal does that send to everybody else in the armed forces? That is what we are talking about here.
We are talking about people in positions of authority accepting the responsibility for their positions and not sloughing it off to somebody else like the corporal who showed character while the deputy minister showed none. That is what this is all about.
Mr. Jean H. Leroux (Shefford, BQ): Mr. Speaker, first I want to congratulate the two Reform members who spoke on behalf of their party.
I have had the pleasure of working with the hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands whom, I think, is a true gentleman. The hon. member was in the military for a number of years. He knows the problems that plague the Canadian forces. We sat together on the joint committee. The hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands
knows what he is talking about when he discusses the morale of our troops.
I also want to congratulate the other member who spoke. I believe these people, like us, want to get at the truth.
At this point in time, it is estimated that the inquiry will have cost $25 million. However, the really sad thing is that we will still not know exactly what happened after, Canadians will not know how some tried to hide the facts, and this is an aberration. Canadians can accept the spending of money, provided it is done properly.
There is a problem in the Canadian forces. There are, and my party certainly agrees, extraordinary people in the military. There are people who work hard, but the morale of our troops is currently being undermined, and we think it is coming from the top. This is why we must do whatever is necessary.
What we are asking, and I see that the Reform Party agrees with us, is for an extension of a few months, not 10 years, just a few months.
I want to ask the hon. member if, based on his experience, he believes the Bloc Quebecois and the Reform Party are asking for a reasonable extension. Does he think this would allow us to get at the truth and then take the necessary steps to correct the situation?
Mr. McClelland: Mr. Speaker, in my view the only way that we will ever retain any confidence-not just us but the Canadian people and the military-in it is to exorcise all the ghosts and demons. No matter how long it takes and no matter how much it costs, it will be worth it.
Let me bring one more instance into this. Sergeant Mark Boland was asleep at the time that this took place. He was a section commander. He accepted responsibility for what happened because it happened on his watch. Even though he was not on site, these people were under his direct command and he accepted responsibility. He pleaded guilty to dereliction of responsibility because it happened. He did a plea bargain and got nine months.
He is a career military person. He recognized it was wrong. The military said: ``Okay, plead guilty. We will give you nine months and you can get on with your life''. He got his nine months and then the military appealed. Then he got over a year and they could then kick him out.
Mark Boland was an exemplary career soldier. If the commission wants to hear horror stories about what really went on in Somalia it should interview him. Mark Boland was given a direct order by a superior commissioned officer who was pissed out of his mind to shoot a Somali in cold blood. He would not do it. All the commission had to do is ask him.
Mark Boland does not have standing before the commission. How can this possibly be? When the military police came to Mark Boland's home in Petawawa to arrest him the second time, they did so in front of his wife and children. He hauled him out of his home with his children screaming: ``Daddy, what is happening? What is going on?''
This was the kind of treatment afforded the lower deck as differentiated from the treatment afforded the upper deck. That is why there is a morale problem in the Canadian Armed Forces today and people do not have to be rocket scientists to figure it out.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères, BQ): Mr. Speaker, right off the bat, I want to say that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.
``The most important asset of government is the confidence it enjoys of the citizens to whom it is accountable. This erosion of confidence seems to have many causes: some have to do with the behaviour of certain elected politicians, others with an arrogant style of political leadership. The people are irritated with governments that do not consult them, or that disregard their views, or that try to conduct key parts of the public business behind closed doors.'' These wise words are not from me, but from the red book of the Liberal Party of Canada. It goes on to say: ``A Liberal government will take a series of initiatives to restore confidence in the institutions of government.''
During the election campaign, the Liberal Party came out as a model of integrity, advocating integrity and transparency, wanting to restore the public confidence in politicians and their institutions. Instead, Liberals have become masters of cover-ups, shady deals, obfuscation, hidden and hypocritical actions.
It is with great pleasure that I support the motion put forward by my hon. colleague from Shefford, which reads as follows:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should commit itself to having full light shed on the events occurring before, during and after the deployment of Canadian troops to Somalia, by extending the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry until December 31, 1997.Just as the commission itself asked for.
As we all know, this inquiry was abruptly and prematurely terminated by the defence minister and the federal government. We have the right to ask why this commission of inquiry is not being treated with the same tolerance usually shown other royal commissions.
This decision is unprecedented. This is the first time a government refuses to extend the mandate of a royal commission or any
other judicial inquiry. So it is quite normal that we should question the motives behind this precedent, which will unfortunately go down in history.
However, we are all the more puzzled when the commission chief, Mr. Justice Létourneau, says that this deadline means that he and the commission will be unable to get to the bottom of this affair.
Thanks to our Liberal colleagues, Quebecers and Canadians will not be able to get the full story on the role of the top army and government brass in this affair. Once again, therefore, it is the little guys who will pay, in this case, the lower ranks.
Just when the Somalia inquiry was getting to the meat of its mandate, it is suddenly reined in. Why? ``Because it has already cost the taxpayer too much'', is the defence minister's reply. And a wonderfully deceptive reply it is, coming from a Liberal minister whose government will soon call an election.
Of course, they trot out figures of $25 million, which may seem huge to the ordinary person, but they neglect to say what they include. The amount is actually more like $14 million, when you deduct the cost of legal representation for certain witnesses, and the $10 million spent by the Department of National Defence getting ready for the inquiry.
In addition, if the costs of this commission are compared with those of commissions held over the last 15 years, it can be seen that this latest one is not out of line, far from it. As an example, the 1994 commission on new reproductive technologies cost the taxpayers of Quebec and of Canada exactly $29,726,730, while the commission on aboriginal peoples, which ran from 1991 to 1996, apparently cost the astronomical sum of $51,220,732.
As you can see, the first point raised by the minister regarding the fact that the Somalia inquiry was costing too much simply has no basis in fact.
They also referred to the time involved. As I said earlier, the commission on aboriginal peoples went on for five years; the commission on new reproductive technologies took four years; the commission on the future of the Toronto harbour area-imagine, the future of the Toronto harbour area-nearly four years; and this one, which goes to the very heart of organization and discipline within the Canadian armed forces is taking too long? This argument does not hold water.
This is like hiring a detective to investigate a somewhat unsavoury situation, and after a while, when the detective has almost found what he was looking for, I tell him ``Listen, you already cost me $10,000. This is getting too expensive. We are going to stop there'', although I know perfectly well the detective is about to find out the truth. ``Besides, it is taking too long. I can wait no longer. I must find a way to deal with the problem''.
If I want the detective to stop his investigation at this point, it may be because I realize he is about to discover that I am involved. That is what we are talking about here.
It is important for the commission to use the available tools carefully and with restraint, so as to shed every possible light on the events, and to do so as efficiently as possible. We should not be surprised that all this takes time.
And when a commission ends up looking for months on end at documents that have been tampered with and when it is inundated with thousands of documents that suddenly came to light, as happened in this case, obviously this slows down the commission's work. The government also tells us the procedure is too time-consuming and that we have to get on with the solutions instead of dwelling on the problems. But how can we find a solution to a problem that must be further defined and clarified? Unless of course we want to avoid shedding any light on the problem we want to solve.
Did not the former Minister of National Defence promise that the commission would have all the time and all the resources it needed to get to the bottom of this issue? Since this involves getting to the heart of the problem, and the heart of the problem is the senior political and military authorities in this country, the government prefers to skim the surface.
It would have been embarrassing for the Liberal government to admit that Mr. Anderson, appointed by this government as Canada's ambassador to NATO, Mr. Fowler, appointed by this government as Canada's ambassador to the UN, and Ms. Campbell, appointed by this government as consul general in Los Angeles, had been involved in something illegal. Rather than asking these VIPs, these honourable folks, to appear before the Somalia inquiry, they terminated the commission so as to get off the hook.
I believe that the government's decision is motivated purely by a desire to gain votes. The government has asked the commission to wrap up its public hearings on March 31, and to table its final report by June 30. There are rumours of a general election in early June, with the 9th being mentioned. The Prime Minister has not consulted me, of course, but there is talk of June 9. The public hearings would, therefore, be over by the time the election is called, and the government would not be embarrassed by the report either, as it would be published after the election.
If this is the case, if the government makes this kind of decision purely for electoral reasons, and thinks that the voters will not
remember the turpitude of the government when they mark their ballots, well the Bloc Quebecois will be there to remind them.
Mr. John Richardson (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in the situation that we have before us we have seen Canadians participate in Somalia. They were part of a team that went in to take over a state that had failed. All the infrastructures, political and otherwise, had gone and it was led by gangs.
Canadians followed the call of the United Nations and the United States. The airborne battle group was sent to participate. It was stationed at Belet Huen and the situation there was out of order. It was under fire on many occasions. This was unlike any other peacekeeping group, one where live bullets were being fired on a regular basis. Thievery, looting and raiding of the group's lines were a daily action. The group was under the kinds of stresses that no other peacekeeping operation was under.
As a consequence, our Canadian soldiers undertook operation deliverance as a humanitarian mission of unprecedented complexity and difficulty. The environmental conditions were the worst faced by Canadian personnel in war. There was 35 degree to 40 degree weather throughout the period and our troops contended with sandstorms, venomous snakes, insects and the ever present threat of malaria and dysentery.
Nature represented one threat. Our personnel were susceptible to mortar and artillery fire, small arms fire as well as stonings and swarmings. It was a dangerous duty.
Mr. Bergeron: Mr. Speaker, I do not understand the point of my colleague's remarks. Is he speaking as part of questions and comments or is he beginning his speech?
The Deputy Speaker: There is only five minutes. I would ask the hon. parliamentary secretary to make his comment or question and wrap it up fairly quickly please.
Mr. Richardson: Mr. Speaker, I think it has been only three minutes.
As part of the specific mission they secured an area of about 30,000 kilometres, escorted humanitarian convoys, carried out extensive demining operations, destroyed or put under guard vast quantities of weapons. But their condition did not end there.
They also did their best to improve the lives of the local population. Let me give a few examples. At the Medina hospital at Mogadishu the airborne did much the same in Belet Huen. Field engineers fixed machinery, soldiers helped repair the local jail, doctors and nurses from the battle group surgical team assisted the staff at the international medical corps hospital. This is the side of the story that does not get told.
They were awarded commendations by the Americans for executing their job in a very professional manner as the best operators in the field at that time.
Mr. Bergeron: Mr. Speaker, I note that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence wanted to use this period to begin his speech ahead of time. I do not hold it against him.
The arguments he raised are totally irrelevant to the speech I just made. He intimates that we do not in our speeches recognize the worth of the job done by the military on bases and in missions around the world and, particularly, in the case of the mission to Somalia.
That is not the issue. This week, I heard the Minister of National Defence giving a member of the Reform Party a dressing down, saying that she lacked respect for the military because she raised the question.
We are not questioning the quality of the work the military does here and throughout the world, but rather the quality of the work of this government, which is taking away the credibility of the Canadian military.
Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Shefford, who is renowned for his integrity and perspicacity. If only these qualities were contagious, because, as you know, in light of a number of recent decisions, we have every right to criticize, be concerned and demand an explanation. That is what opposition days are for.
To those joining us, I would like to point out that we, as the official opposition, an informed and responsible opposition, have decided to ask this government to explain its actions in what has now become the unfortunate Somalia scandal.
Let me remind everyone of what our motion states, so as to make the terms of this debate perfectly clear. It reads:
That in the opinion of this House, the government should commit itself to having full light shed on the events occurring before, during and after the deployment of Canadian troops to Somalia, by extending the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry until December 31, 1997.I hope government members will rise and give us an explanation on this. You know full well that Privy Council legislation provides for the establishment of commissions of inquiry. Inherent to the democratic process is this mechanism whereby outsiders, often experts, are asked to look into a particular matter or contentious issues.
Is this something anyone from British Columbia to Quebec to Newfoundland can be proud of? Can this government show support for the unfortunate incidents that have taken place in Somalia?
What is it all about? First of all, it involves people who have died, were killed, murdered under mysterious circumstances. As parliamentarians, we deal with foreign policy matters. The members of this House, and government members in particular, although there is a consensus around this, all of us, regardless of our affiliation, have been recognized as believing in the international community. Not only do we believe in the international community, but we believe in sending people over, who, through their action, presence, conviction or expertise, will be able to help settle conflicts quickly or before they even start.
Will someone from the government tell us why, after it was decided to deploy our forces in Somalia-where, I admit, the situation was unclear-Canadian soldiers became involved in murder and people were killed in their own country? This is what we are talking about.
Of course, when we raise this issue, the minister adopts a holier-than-thou attitude. He tries using his well known eloquence, but it will sound hollow in the ballot box when Canadians render their verdict on the attempted coverup by this government.
What we are asking for is simple. We are not trying to discredit the military. We all know there are people who decided to join the Canadian Armed Forces because it gave a meaning to their life. These are honest, brilliant and studious people who made a career choice. We do not question that. What we question is the way decisions are made, the way the chain of command works. Why are we faced with situations such as the one we are discussing today?
Our hope was that the government would get to the bottom of this issue, and we will continue to urge it to do so. It is not true that the inquiry was given every possible opportunity. We all know that the inquiry went through all kinds of tribulations, that it had trouble obtaining some documents.
We all know the defence department did not offer the co-operation it should have provided early on to help commissioners get all the documents that would have allowed them to do their work properly.
What is the government trying to hide? There is a long tradition of commissions being set up and, generally speaking, the results have been positive. One can think of the Laurendeau-Dunton commission, which helped define Quebec's needs. As a rule, commissions of inquiry are tools to first gain expertise and knowledge, and then, ideally, to lead to very specific measures. We could, with the material from this inquiry, if it is able to get to the bottom of things, restructure, review the chain of command, restructure the decision making process within the Canadian Armed Forces.
It is sad. It is not a memorable day in a democracy when the authorities, when one is an authoritarian minister as the defence minister is, when one chooses to use one's power to intimidate. When all is said and done, what has the minister decided? He has decided to intimidate. The inquiry and its commissioners are told: ``You will not get to the bottom of things; you will not be given free rein''.
It is true that it may call witnesses up until the month of March; it is true that it may table a report in the month of June, but the workload, all the documents that must be dealt with, the complexity of the subject are such that time becomes a determining factor in the commissioners' ability to tackle the full scope of the matter.
There is nothing to be proud of in the lengths to which the minister is going in his refusal to be transparent, because that is what it boils down to. But you should have heard the Liberals on the campaign trail talking about transparency, ethics and integrity. It was one superlative after another when this government was telling us how determined it was to govern differently. But each time anything slightly controversial comes up, each time an explanation is called for, we find ourselves up against an aging government, worn down by time, whose instinct is to cover up and, let it be said, not just to cover up but to forget about integrity.
There is still time because, thanks to the vigilance of the member for Shefford and his colleagues, we are giving an opportunity to this government, a government that will have to face the people in a while, and you know how ready we are on this side of the House.
I see that the member for Pontiac-Gatineau-Labelle is once again nodding his head. I hope he will vote in favour of the motion. We are giving the government and all members an opportunity to rise one after the other and put an end to this coverup operation, to vote for integrity, for honesty, for transparency. And if these words still mean something to the people on the government side, they will vote in favour of our motion, allowing the commissioners to get to the bottom of things, and they will grant the extension the commissioners are requesting, because that is the right thing to do, in light of what went on in Somalia.
I hope that the government members will take advantage of this opportunity.
Mr. Robert Bertrand (Pontiac-Gatineau-Labelle, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have listened to my colleague, the hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, with great interest.
Mr. Bergeron: Listening is not enough, understanding is needed too.
Mr. Bertrand: Exactly, I listened, and I understood.
If I may, I would like to make a few comments. It is true that the Somalia inquiry is looking into a very complex matter, the events that occurred in Somalia, what happened before the troops were sent over, and what happened afterward, of course.
We have always respected the inquiry's independence, and the government has never commented on what ought to be looked into by the Somalia inquiry, nor on the testimony given to it. Its mandate was extended until the end of June 1997, which means that it will have sat more than two years.
If, for internal reasons, the commission wants to hear testimony which reflects the opposition's concerns, it is free to do so. We are anxiously awaiting the final report in order to-
Mr. Leroux (Shefford): Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Is the member reading his speech, asking a question or making a comment?
Mr. Bertrand: It is a comment, Mr. Speaker.
The Deputy Speaker: It is a very important point for the House, but in our parliamentary system we do indeed have the right to read notes. I regret this, personally, but it is up to the hon. members to deal with the issue.
Mr. Bertrand: Mr. Speaker, I was saying that, on this side of the House, we are anxiously awaiting the final report of the inquiry in order to implement its conclusions.
Mr. Ménard: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is a model of ingenious spontaneity. I have every respect for the hon. member, and I am sure that if he looks at the Privy Council documents, which I would urge him to read, that he will agree the Privy Council admitted when the previous extensions were granted that the estimates of the time it would take the commission to finish its work had not been accurate.
What the hon. member should consider is this. At this stage, and considering the importance of the subject-the hon. member must never forget that human lives were involved-would he not prefer to avoid any recurrence of this kind of situation in the future? And if we are to avoid a recurrence, would the hon. member agree that it is preferable to get to the bottom of all this and let the commissioners do their job?
No one in this House has any reason to doubt the dedication of the commissioners, so if they need more time to do their job, I think the hon. member should be mindful of the point I just made, show some maturity and keep an open mind, emphasizing the need for transparency and integrity.
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands has about a minute and his colleague has about a minute to reply.
Mr. Jack Frazer (Saanich-Gulf Islands, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the government was very keen to pursue the inquiry while it was examining things that happened under the Tory mandate, but now we are getting toward the post-deployment phase. Although the events happened in March 1993, events followed and after the October 1993 election when the Liberals were in power a substantial amount happened since then.
Does the member see any connection between the fact that the inquiry was fine when it was at arm's length but now that it is getting closer it may be not so appropriate?
Mr. Ménard: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has a quick mind, as we all know, and of course we were making those connections. We see a government that will be hard pressed to defend the choices that were made. This takes us back to the chain of command. The hon. member for Verchères pointed this out in his comments on recent appointments and the politicians involved in the way in the government managed this crisis after the deployment in Somalia. We are very much aware of those connections.
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. members, it being 1.15 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith all questions necessary to dispose of the supply proceedings.
Is the House ready for the question?
Some hon. members: Question.
The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
And more than five members having risen:
The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the recorded division stands deferred until Monday, February 10, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.
The Deputy Speaker: Is it agreed to call it 1.30 p.m?
Some hon. members: No.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, before you call it 1.30 p.m., I think you will find that there is unanimous consent for the hon. member for Calgary Southwest to sponsor Bill C-341 instead of Motion No. 259 on the order of precedence.
The Deputy Speaker: The House has heard the proposition of the hon. member for St. Albert. Is there unanimous consent to allow him to move the motion he has just made?
Some hon. members: No.
Mr. Laurin: Mr. Speaker, could someone explain to me the consequences of changing the order of priority?
The Deputy Speaker: It is up to the member for St. Albert to do so.
Does the hon. member for St. Albert wish to clarify the matter for his colleague?
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, the clarification is that there have been some resignations in the House and in order to maintain the order of precedence I have brought forward the request for unanimous consent to make the changes on the order of precedence.
Mr. Laurin: Mr. Speaker, we do not have unanimous consent.
The Deputy Speaker: Clearly, we do not have unanimous consent in the House.
Mr. Bergeron: Mr. Speaker, before we declare it 1.30 p.m.-
An hon. member: No, no. Consent has not been given.
Mr. Bergeron: Shall we continue with the opposition day debate, Mr. Speaker? That is the subject of my speech.
Before we call it 1.30 p.m., perhaps we could see whether there are other speakers on this question among our colleagues, before we go on to other things.
The Deputy Speaker: I fully understand what the member is trying to say, but, unfortunately, or fortunately, the Standing Orders provide that the vote must be taken at 1.15 p.m., and that is why we had to have it then.
We seem to be in the doldrums. If we can declare it 1.30 p.m. now, we can proceed with private members' business. Otherwise, we are obliged to find something else to deal with for ten minutes.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately I have to admit I was not paying too much attention, but our speaker is not here and I was wondering if you could suspend the House for a few minutes until we are ready to bring our speaker forward.
I apologize, Mr. Speaker, we have a member from the great province of British Columbia who is prepared to speak on the motion.
The Deputy Speaker: It seems we can now call it 1.30 p.m. Is it agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS[English]
Mr. Gar Knutson (Elgin-Norfolk, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to address this issue today. The hon. member for Prince George-Bulkley Valley has moved a motion asking the government to strengthen penalties for impaired driving offences in order to enhance deterrence and bring the penalties into line with the seriousness of the offence.
Let me say for the record that I support the motion of the hon. member and I am happy to do so. I do, however, want to in my speech today broaden the debate around this whole issue and say as a starting point generally I support what works. I think the whole issue of drunken driving and how to solve the issue of excessive drinking and the problems that arise from it is a complicated one and there are no simple solutions.
I support the member's concern for ensuring that penalties for drunken driving are proportional to the crime. I believe that whether penalties currently provided for in the Criminal Code are proportional to the offence of drunken driving is a debatable point and I look forward to this bill's being approved and passed on to committee where it can be debated more fully.
In considering the deterrent effect of criminal laws and criminal penalties we have to take into account the different types of people who commit drinking and driving offences and how they might be best influenced. Not everyone has the same motivation depending on their age, their background and not everyone will be affected the same way by a change in the law.
I believe that people are deterred from drinking and driving by a host of factors. Criminal law penalties for drinking and driving are undoubtedly an important factor but, as I have said, not the only factor.
The challenge is to find the point at which criminal penalties do represent a strong deterrent and the point at which they do not. If we stray beyond that point we risk a situation where we have little return in terms of increased deterrence for the effort placed into increasing the penalties. Such a situation would tell us that our efforts to decrease drinking and driving could be better located in other areas that would bring significantly greater deterrence.
There seems to be at least four different kinds of people who commit drinking and driving crimes. I am not sure that all four types would response positively simply because the criminal penalties for drinking and driving crimes were increased from what they are.
First, there are the young people who commit drinking and driving crimes. Some of them are not even of legal drinking age. For many of these, illicit drinking is a form of rebellion or an expression of their growing desire to be an adult or a response to peer pressure, or a combination of these factors and others. A concurrent drinking and driving crime might simply by a response to the same factors that precipitated the illicit drinking. With young people who drink and drive there may be little or no thought about any of the potential consequences of drinking and driving, whether it be death, injury, criminal consequences or licence and insurance consequences, even if there is the sensation that ``it won't happen to me''; that well known teenage sense that they are invulnerable may overcome good sense as it often does in other circumstances.
Perhaps increased deterrence might be best accomplished for young persons through the use of peer counselling or public education. I think it entirely possible that increased penalties under the Criminal Code would be somewhat in the bottom half of the list of measures that would actually deter these young people who commit drinking and driving crimes.
It is doubtful to me that increased criminal penalties would have any greater effect on the young person's decision about drinking and driving than the current criminal penalties have.
A second type of person who commits drinking and driving crime is the otherwise responsible adult drinker who in a moment of bad judgment drinks too much and then makes the alcohol impaired decision to drive or who drinks and then takes an irresponsible but calculated risk to drive. I imagine that such calculated risks typically focuses on the likelihood of detection by the police, that any thought about personal safety or the safety of others is put out of mind and does not enter the equation.
It seems to me that increasing the penalties for drinking and driving crimes would not do much to deter such persons. They are weighing out whether they will get caught. They are not concerned that the minimum penalty is at present $300 or $1,000 or that they might have to spend 30 days in jail as a minimum for a second offence rather than the present 14 days for a second offence.
This group might be better deterred by focusing on certainty of detection or alternatives to driving or on messages that will help the individuals to think about small but unacceptable risk of death or injury to self or others. In other words, we might be better off instead of spending money on putting more people in jail, to spend more money on police as a deterrence to drinking and driving.
Next, there would appear to be a group of people with unique problems who choose to drink and drive. These are the alcoholics who compound a drinking problem with driving after they drink.
I am careful to note that there are, on the other side of the matter, some persons who are alcoholics who very responsibly choose not to drive after they drink. They find other solutions to any transportation needs they have after they have been drinking.
Perhaps conquering the underlying alcoholism provides the best hope for alcoholics who drive after drinking. However, not all alcoholics are prepared to admit that they have a problem that requires treatment.
Certainly it seems important to encourage alternatives to driving after drinking, given that many alcoholics are not prepared to admit to a problem or to submit to treatment.
It should disturb all of us that if we are going to be sending more people to jail we need also to put in more resources within the jails so that they can bring in alcohol problems or drug abuse problems so that at the end of the day we find something that actually does work and helps solve the problem.
There is a fourth group of persons who commit drinking and driving crimes. These are the people who simply do not care what happens to themselves or to others as a result of their behaviour. If they want to drink, they do and if they want to drive, they will. If somebody gets killed or injured along the way, that is just the way it goes.
Increasing the penalties for Criminal Code drinking and driving offences would have no impact on this small but very frightening group. Ultimately the decision about drinking and driving rests with individuals of all types and minds.
For those of us who do not drink and drive, the solution seems simple. If you drink, do not drive. If you cannot stay where you are, have someone drive you. If you cannot walk or take a taxi, then do not drink.
While to you and me the risk, however remote, of having a tragic accident and killing someone if we were to drink and drive is likely to be a great deterrent, there are those who are simply not deterred by this thought, nor are they deterred by the criminal law consequences, whether they be present penalties or increased penalties.
For these reasons, rather than boosting criminal penalties, I would prefer to see further development of drinking and driving counter measures that aim to change attitudes to the point where driving and drinking become completely unacceptable in all circumstances, not only in those circumstances where death or injury occurs.
This would necessarily involve finding ways to help people keep their drinking separate from any driving. Efforts would have to be specific to the characteristics of the different groups that I have broadly set out so that there would be the greatest effect for the work that is done.
More important, individuals would have to begin taking responsibilities for what they do and say in their homes and schools, offices and communities to prevent drinking and driving.
I am not suggesting that criminal law penalties have no deterrent value; quite the contrary. We all know that they are. They are and our present penalties already hold significant deterrent value.
However, it is far more effective to combine criminal penalties with a range of other attempts to combat drinking and driving. Training for service personnel in bars and the use of designated non-drinking drivers are examples of efforts that help prevent drinking and driving.
Public education that raises the issue and helps young people to think of the consequences and to make the decision not to drive after drinking before they find themselves at a party is another example.
Families can encourage all family members to call for a ride with no questions asked should they ever drink and not have a method of transportation available. Similarly, families can encourage their members to call for help rather than accept a ride from a drinking driver.
In short, we have to make it socially unacceptable to drink and drive. We are now getting there. No doubt there are people who obey the law if only because it is the law. For others, the risk of death or of killing someone else is a far greater deterrent than the increased penalty that might be imposed under the criminal law in the event that they were detected and convicted.
It is clear that the largest percentage of victims among persons killed by drinking drivers are the drinking drivers themselves and their passengers, rather than the other people in vehicles or on foot.
Rather than looking at someone who tries to keep someone else from driving after drinking as a killjoy or a busybody, we need to reach the point where intervening is the socially responsible thing to do.
Criminal law can be asked to do its part to reduce drinking and driving. In my view it already does. Whether it could do more is a debatable point but we should not rely solely on the criminal law and we should allow other systems and other players to play a role in order to end the tragic waste brought about through drinking and driving.
It is a trap to think that only increased penalties under the criminal law can make a difference.
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the motion. It reads as follows:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should consider strengthening penalties in those sections of the Criminal Code which deal with impaired driving offences in order to: (a) enhance deterrence; and (b) bring the penalties into line with the seriousness of the offence.At first glance we think that it is unacceptable for people to drive while drunk, and they should be very severely penalized. This is the kind of motion which demands that we look at the current situation and ponder whether the proposed solution is adequate.
After having consulted with the member for Berthier-Montcalm, our justice critic, and a number of experts on the subject, we have come to realize that the current penalties are quite significant and that the solution to this problem lies in more education.
What we need is more adds, more visits to schools and social clubs, we need to enlist the help of police officers who go into the schools and people who have speaking engagements with social clubs. This is the way to change behaviour, not by sentencing people to a couple more years under the Criminal code. The Criminal Code has already been strengthened and to further do it will not necessarily solve the problem.
I would like to tell you about Operation Nez rouge, an initiative which has been more productive than the punitive approach. It originated in Quebec and is now in operation across Canada. It came into being at Laval University, in Quebec City, as a fund raiser for the swim team. It has been growing since and has been extended to several provinces.
During the holidays, people tend to celebrate a lot and drink too much; they can call ``Nez rouge'' to have somebody drive them home. As a result the number of accidents has fallen sharply. This is the kind of behaviour we want to promote. While providing
transportation, we educate people. Over the years, they are getting the message. Solutions for the future lie in this kind of initiatives.
I will make another point, which might have some relevance for Reform members: in some provinces, deterrents are combined with provisions under the Criminal Code. In Quebec, each time a person is sentenced to a six month suspension of their driver's licence, the agency responsible for the driver's licence system automatically doubles the suspension, which goes up to a year. There already is a deterrent. We have taken measures in this regard. Drivers are aware of these regulations. The deterrent effect of losing one's licence is doubled.
For repeat offenders, the penalty is stiffer. When someone is caught a second time, the penalty is much stiffer. Instead of, say, a six month suspension, the licence is suspended for a year or two; so there is definitely an additional penalty. A second suspension almost automatically means that the person will not be allowed to drive for a very long time.
These are measures that already exist. They are in place and they are effective. Adding to or strengthening the penalties set out in the Criminal Code as proposed in the motion will not give better results. The law already acts as a deterrent.
The kind of behaviour that leads a person to drive while he or she is impaired and should not be driving requires preventive action. People have to make it a habit not to let a relative or a friend leave with the car when he or she is not fit to drive. Strengthening penalties in the Criminal Code by two or three years will not keep someone who has had one drink too many from driving. It is a habit that has to be acquired.
I would like to draw your attention to the second part of the motion, which says that penalties should be brought into line with the seriousness of the offence. We think that penalties already are in line with the seriousness of the offence. The impaired driver who has not caused any damage will not receive the same sentence as the one who has caused physical injury or any other kind of damage.
This judicial discretion granted to the judges is, in fact, being used adequately and it does send a message to the accused. Judges can take it into consideration. I think judges should be able to continue to pass sentences according to the directions they are given, and to use their discretion to determine how serious the offence and the impacts are and to bring the penalties in line.
We are also against this motion, because it implies that there are currently no deterrent provisions in the Criminal Code, as if there is a free for all, as if drunken drivers face no or minimal penalties, which is not true, because we do have deterrent provisions.
The motion implies that there is an inequity in the sentences handed out, but when we look at those sentences, we find no evidence of such a thing in the court decisions. Of course, if we go for sensationalism, if we read reports in the Saturday or Sunday newspapers about terrible accidents and horrible situations, it may make us lean toward the motion before us. However, we have to look more closely at these kinds of situations. We have to get a true picture of what is going on. We also have to determine who is responsible in that area of jurisdiction. For instance, are the provinces taking their responsibilities? Are the measures suggested here not similar to what Quebec is already doing, which is doubling the penalties for anyone who loses his or her driving licence following a Criminal Code offence?
For all these reasons, we think that the authorities are already taking their responsibilities properly. We think that the measure suggested in this motion would not help to sufficiently change drivers' attitudes within two, three, four, five or even ten years. The number of people who drink and drive will not decrease because the penalties are be more severe. We already have very severe penalties.
In conclusion, we think more ought to be done in terms of education and the provinces, the not for profit organizations dealing with such issues, and the people fighting alcoholism ought to be given the means to do their jobs. Let us give them funds to enable them to intervene in their sector of activity. Then we will really be serving society.
The punishment underlying the motion before us will not resolve anything, except to send the message, in an approach I would call superficial and election oriented, that we can resolve the sort of problem we run into with this sort of solution. It seems to me to be a bit like the case of the adolescent who gets his knuckles rapped instead of an explanation of why his behaviour is unacceptable. The second or third time his knuckles are rapped, he does not even remember any more whether it hurts. However, if time were spent educating him so he understood what was going on, most times his behaviour could be changed to something more socially acceptable. I think this is more the way of the future.
I hope the House rejects this motion and that, if the situation is ever debated again, it is with a view to understanding how the problem can really be solved, because we see here an attitude similar to the attitude of the Reform Party in many other instances. The way to resolve things is to come down hard on people's knuckles, and yet the problems require a much more subtle approach.
I think the members tabling such motions should go into each community and see how things work. Let them look at the results. Let them ask what the numbers are so that, based on the consequences that are known, we can take appropriate measures and not simply go for sensationalism.
Ms. Val Meredith (Surrey-White Rock-South Langley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak today on the motion of my hon. colleague from Prince George-Bulkley Valley. The motion to get it clear is not overreacting; it is simply a motion which states:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should consider strengthening penalties in those sections of the Criminal Code which deal with impaired driving offences in order to: (a) enhance deterrence; and (b) bring the penalties into line with the seriousness of the offence.(1340 )
I have four adult boys. They are normal young men who are enjoying life to its fullest. Every night when they leave the house I worry that they will become a statistic because somebody else is out there drinking and driving. I share that worry with most parents across this country.
I have had the unfortunate circumstance of talking to parents who have been in the position of having lost children to an impaired driver. One of my board members is a father whose son and grandchildren were quickly killed by an impaired driver in Prince George, B.C.
A father encouraged me to get involved in a campaign he is starting up to go across Canada with the message that drinking and driving kills. He lost his young 23-year old son who was just beginning life, full of opportunities. Early one evening an impaired driver went through a stop sign, ran into his vehicle and killed him instantly.
That driver had had numerous impaired driving charges, had had his licence suspended and had been brought to the attention of the police twice that very same day, once for sideswiping parked cars while impaired and once for running red lights in the community while impaired. Was he taken off the streets, put away for the day, incarcerated or whatever because he had had impaired driving charges months before that? No, he was left on the street to continue to drive while impaired and in the evening he killed a young man who had had his whole life ahead of him.
People who drink and drive lack responsibility. They have choices. They can make a decision. They know there are penalties out there. They know their licences can be suspended but that does not seem to send a very strong message to them. They do not seem to consider the seriousness of what it is they are doing. I share the concerns of my hon. colleagues.
I will admit I had some problems with the private member's bill which said that if impaired driving caused death it should automatically be a seven year minimum sentence. If it was a first time occurrence, I thought that seemed a little bit harsh.
Since being elected to this place and in the true fashion of Reform, I put the issues to my constituents. Therefore I shared with them my concern that it might be a little harsh for a first time offender and asked what they thought about it. There were 3,685 constituents who responded to my questionnaire. The question was: Should anyone convicted of impaired driving causing death be sentenced to a minimum of seven years incarceration?
They answered the question knowing I was a little uncomfortable with it if it was a first offence. In response, 2,463 or 66.84 per cent said yes, they felt that there should be a seven year minimum charge. There were 1,082 or 29.36 per cent who said no. They shared my concern that in some circumstances it might be overreacting to it.
I have to believe that those people out there who dealt with the issue looked at it from their own circumstances and recognized that suspended sentences are not reducing people's use of alcohol and driving. A few months of incarceration is not stopping people from drinking and driving.
I will not argue with the Bloc and the Liberal members who say education is important. One thing that impresses me more than anything else is that because of the education on impaired driving and that driving and drinking can kill, young people today are far more responsible than people our age.
Young people today when planning an evening out in most cases will have a designated driver along with them. Young people today are more willing and more likely to leave their cars at home and take cabs or public transit. They are far more aware that drinking and driving might kill. However, that does not protect those young people from those among us in society who drink to extreme and then get behind the wheel, thus turning their vehicles into dangerous weapons.
Today of all days, when an individual tried to drive a vehicle into the House of Commons shows us that vehicles can be and are a dangerous implement. When that vehicle is put into the hands of somebody who has had too much to drink or is impaired because of other substance abuse, it is an extremely dangerous weapon on our streets.
Some of the crime statistics are quite frightening. People know there is a law against drinking and driving. We all know that those convicted of crimes while under the influence of alcohol are given
lenient sentences. Most of the support material in the Criminal Code are cases of impaired driving. Most of the Criminal Code book is a history of cases of impaired driving which have gone through the courts.
The Mothers against Drunk Driving have an ongoing campaign to bring forward things at which we should be looking, and the changes that should be made to legislation but they have not been very successful in convincing the government.
Some of the stats, as I mentioned, are quite frightening. I am going to use the stats from 1994 because those are the ones that I have at my disposal. There were 1,414 people killed in Canada as a result of impaired driving. When that figures is broken down it shows that 3.8 people each and every day are killed as a result of impaired driving. In Canada 311 people are injured each day by impaired drivers. The Ontario Medical Association estimates that it costs Ontario $100 million per year to treat impaired driving injuries. Another frightening statistic is that one out of five drivers every night are impaired.
Education is fine but people do ignore the message that is being put out loud and clear through MADD, the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers program, court programs for anyone who has had successive impaired driving charges; Alcoholics Anonymous programs and throughout out the schools systems. Do they help? I would suggest that from the statistics before us that people are ignoring the information. To consider it a social disease which is not recognized as being a criminal is naive. It is not only naive but it is a refusal to look at what is happening and to try and do something about it. It is naive to think that education is going to stop that kind of behaviour.
I come from a family which unfortunately has been touched by alcoholism. My father spent many years bringing treatment programs into the province of Alberta and is recognized for having done so. I believe that we have to consider alcoholism as a disease and treat it as such. But that does not stop us from saying that it is a criminal activity to drink and drive. We must do all that is in our power to see that is stopped.
I do not want to join the ranks of other parents who lose a child because of someone who drank too much, got behind the wheel of a vehicle, a very dangerous weapon under those circumstances and I would be left to mourn for the rest of my life.
I am in a position where I can try and do something about it. I do not think it is too much to ask this government to look at the Criminal Code and at changes that can be made to that federal legislation to send a strong message to people who will make the decision to drink and get behind the wheel of a vehicle and drive. It is not too strong a message to tighten up the Criminal Code and make the offences a whole lot stronger to get the killers off the streets.
Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, first I would like to commend my colleague from Prince George-Bulkley Valley for demonstrating his leadership on this very serious issue.
As my colleagues who have spoken before me have mentioned, there is an epidemic taking place today, despite all the programs the police have established to catch drunk drivers.
The problems are many and it is worthwhile to establish what the problems are and the impact which these problems have within Canada today.
The cost to Canadian society of drunk driving is enormous. In 1994, 87,838 people were charged with impaired driving and l,414 people were killed. That is three times higher than the murder rate.
The government has made an enormous effort to implement laws and regulations to deal with gun registration. Those initiatives will have no effect whatsoever on decreasing the murder rate in Canada.
There is an epidemic within our midst that is causing three times as many deaths as homicides and the government has done nothing to address it. However, the government has an excellent opportunity. It could employ some of the ideas which are contained in Motion No. 78 to address the epidemic.
The cost is massive: almost $400,000 per fatal accident; $310,000 per fatality; $12,000 per injury. That is only the tip of the iceberg.
In my dealings with drunk drivers, both in the emergency departments of hospitals and in jails, I have noticed a couple of things. First, in a jail I was dealing with an individual who had been charged and convicted over 22 times with drunk driving offences. The individual laughed when talking about it and felt that it was a joke. The penalty is not a deterrent in its current form.
The second problem that exists is that it is extraordinarily difficult for the police to actually convict someone who has been drinking and driving. Currently it takes a police officer about six hours to do all the paperwork required to prosecute an individual for drunk driving. That is why when an individual is pulled over who is over the limit, a police officer would rather suspend the person's licence for 24 hours and send him or her home than actually go through the process of prosecuting. People who habitually abuse the system, who drink and drive, know that. They know that if they drink and drive, although the penalties are supposedly quite high, the actual penalties are quite low.
We must do a number of things. We must enable police officers to prosecute individuals who drink and drive in an expeditious manner.
An intelligent trial lawyer can get most people who are charged with drinking and driving off very easily through a number of
loopholes in the system. It extends right from the moment that the blood test is taken to the trial.
I cannot emphasize how important it is for the government to take initiatives to streamline the process and give our police officers a hand in deterring this epidemic. They must be able to send a clear message to people who are considering getting behind the wheel when drunk that it is not acceptable and if they are caught they will be prosecuted and levelled with a penalty which will be more than a slap on the wrist.
My colleague from Prince George-Bulkley Valley has put forward this motion to enable the House to put forward some very stringent penalties to deal with this epidemic. This is not something that is benign. The statistics prove the rate is very high. It is very costly to society.
It is incumbent upon us in this House to take the leadership role once again and demonstrate to the Canadian public that we are interested in their safety and we are going to put forward some intelligent ideas to address this problem. It also involves intelligent ways of dealing with the issue.
As my colleague before me just mentioned, alcoholism is a disease and it must be treated as such. That is why as part and parcel of the conviction for drunk driving, individuals who have committed this offence must have drug and alcohol abuse treatment as an obligatory part of their sentences. Merely sentencing them and sending them back on the street will do absolutely nothing to prevent this situation from occurring again. Drug and alcohol abuse is a complex situation and it must be addressed through counselling. Although counselling and treatment are not absolute solutions, we desperately need them.
One of the big problems in our penal institutions is that not enough emphasis is placed on the drug and alcohol abuse of those who are incarcerated in our penal institutions. A greater emphasis must be put on dealing with the drug and alcohol problems of these individuals instead of merely incarcerating them. Regardless of the reasons they were originally charged and convicted, it is important to make sure we break the cycle of crime, punishment and recidivism which tends to occur not infrequently in people who commit a wide range of criminal offences, be it drunk driving, murder, robbery, assault causing bodily harm and so on.
I once again commend my colleagues, especially my colleague from Prince George-Bulkley Valley for putting forward this motion which tries to address the epidemic of drunk drivers. I implore the government to take heed of his initiatives and to employ them.
I hope the government takes a leadership role with its provincial counterparts, the attorneys general from across the provinces. It could work with them to establish an effective way of preventing this problem through obligatory treatment for alcohol and drug abuse. It could impose significant penalties for those who choose to drink and drive and who get caught, also for those who drink and drive and commit offences in terms of the injuries that occur to defenceless and innocent civilians.
Getting behind the wheel of a car when you are drunk is akin to picking up a gun and shooting somebody. That car is a potential weapon. It is a lethal weapon that has been used with undue and tragic frequency within this country.
People often do not realize that there is sometimes a great deal of callousness and utter disregard for the pain and suffering of victims by some drivers when they get behind the wheel drunk and injure or kill somebody. I remember a tragic case in which a drunk individual killed a young man who was driving another car. Both the drunk fellow and his buddy were injured. He was conscious but his buddy was not. He grabbed his buddy, dragged him into the driver's seat and put himself in the passenger's seat. He was totally uncooperative with the police and he lied repeatedly throughout the process. He did everything he could to get off. There was no regard whatsoever for the young man I had to treat three bays down who had a massive head injury and was dying.
I implore the government to take heed of my colleague's initiatives which are constructive, worthwhile, productive and for the betterment and the health of all Canadians.
Mr. Bill Gilmour (Comox-Alberni, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Motion No. M-78 introduced by my colleague from Prince George-Bulkley Valley.
Motion No. M-78 asks that the government consider strengthening penalties in those sections in the Criminal Code which deal with impaired driving offences in order to enhance deterrence and bring the penalties into line with the seriousness of the offence.
When we look at the facts they simply tell us that the problem is not being addressed or resolved. Drinking and driving is the largest single criminal cause of death and injury in Canada. I am going to repeat that because of the seriousness. Drinking and driving is the largest single criminal cause of death and injury in Canada.
The death rate from impaired driving is three to four times the national murder rate. To put this into perspective, in 1992 there were 732 homicides in Canada. During that same time there were 2,500 deaths resulting from impaired driving.
Clearly we have a problem and clearly we are not addressing that problem. It is in perceptions, I would suggest, that people seem to think that if they cause death or injury using a tonne of metal and plastic they are not capable of driving, that somehow it is okay, it is
not really their fault. I would suggest that it is their fault and that our law enforcement system and our court system in many ways are set up to shield these people. Again, it is goes back to what about the victim in these cases.
I would like to go through a number of facts to bring things into perspective. In 1994 alcohol was involved in 47 per cent of motor vehicle fatalities in Ontario and almost half of the traffic fatalities in British Columbia. In Ontario of the 176 pedestrians killed in 1994, 57 per cent involved the use of alcohol by either the victim or the driver of the vehicle.
We often forget to think about the passengers. We think about someone else being in another vehicle, but in the case of passengers in the vehicle with the impaired driver 25 per cent of fatalities are passengers.
Another terrible figure is 88 per cent of all persons killed in marine vehicle accidents involved alcohol. We tend to think of driving simply motor vehicles on the road. What about boats? In my province of British Columbia the police have cracked down, and rightfully so, on drinking while operating a boat because it has been terrible. People tend to say they do not want to drink and drive on the road but as soon as they get into their boat on the lake they think having a beer or many beers is okay. It is not okay because they are still driving a vehicle, and 88 per cent of all persons killed in marine accidents involved alcohol. That is a terrible statistic. How many more people have to die before something is done?
Clearly my colleague has addressed the situation. He said that we have a problem. All Canadians, every member of this House and all parties should say yes to this motion.
In 1995 Justice Peter Cory of the Supreme Court of Canada remarked: ``Every year drunk driving leaves a terrible trail of death, injury, heartbreak and destruction. In terms of deaths and serious injury resulting in hospitalization, drunk driving is clearly the crime which causes the most significant social loss in this country''.
Sixty-five per cent of all suspensions issued for impaired driving were issued for a second offence. What does this second offence tell us? Why in the world should we have to speak to the second offence or subsequent offences in drunk driving? There should not be a second offence.
The reason I say that is I was in Sweden a number of years ago. The Swedes enjoy having a drink and going out to have a good time. However, they would not dream of drinking and driving. Why? The penalties are there. I believe it was five years automatic at that time. The second time they are gone, no licence.
This is the type of penalty that we require. We have to get the attention of the drinking driver. That clearly has not happened.
An analogy was photo radar where part of the problem was political will. Let us remember the last election in Ontario and the antics the electorate went through about photo radar. I would suggest that the attitude on drinking and driving is similar. The public said it did not want photo radar. Speeding cars were killing people but the political pressure was enough for the Ontario government to pull out its photo radar. In fact, Ontario sold it to my province of British Columbia where it is being used and speeding has decreased.
I use that analogy because I believe it is the same mindset we are seeing with drunk driving: ``While it is a problem, politically we do not think we should address it. Perhaps the next administration or the provincial government or someone else will deal with it''. That simply is not happening.
What have we set up? We have set up a system where a good lawyer, as my colleague says, can get most people off. The court system is clogged. Most of the cases in court now deal with impaired driving and the penalties are simply not there. It is a mindset and an attitude that goes through our whole system. Clearly a wake-up call is required.
I hope my colleagues on all sides of the House will clearly consider this motion and pass it when it is voted on. Although it is a motion and not a bill, it will send a clear message to all governments to deal with this problem in a significant way and put deterrents and educational programs in place so that the deaths on our highways are put to an end.
Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this private member's motion my colleague from Prince George has put in. I applaud him for having done so in order to address this very serious problem of driving while intoxicated and drinking while driving.
I appreciate the support that has come from the other side of the House, the Liberal speaker, who addressed this. It is good to see that most people are behind this type of action being taken against individuals who choose to get behind this killing machine after they have been drinking.
The one thing I would like to point out in this moment that I have is the deterrent factor. A lot of times when we talk about bringing in harsh or stronger punishment for various offences that have been committed, people believe it is not the thing to do because it will not deter. I know that argument is holding true on capital punishment, for example. The argument against capital punishment, most of the time, is simply that it does not deter crime.
However, regardless of whether it does or does not deter crime, when the kind of punishment that this particular motion is calling for with regard to drinking and driving is put in, maybe a deterrent is not exactly the real message. Maybe the message should be that our system is failing in a great way in getting the punishment to fit the crime.
Let me give a couple of examples. We have individuals who are on trial or have been on trial and have been convicted of a certain type of crime, such as second degree murder in the case of Mr. Latimer out of Saskatchewan, and we have another individual who goes to trial who has originally been charged with first degree murder for viciously strangling his wife. I guess they proved that there was not any intent. They lowered the crime to manslaughter, which is a lesser crime than second degree murder. One must wonder about these two kinds of cases.
It is not that they are trying to deter an individual regardless of what they do. Does the punishment meet the crime? That is very important throughout our judicial system.
Probably the most obvious action taking place recently indicating that our justice system is designed to do other things is individuals such as Andy McMechan, who sold his own property across the border illegally, without a wheat board permit and was thrown into jail in handcuffs, taken to court in leg irons where he remained in jail for a fairly lengthy time.
The man did not steal anything. He did not assault anybody. He broke the law. No one is denying that. He simply did not get a wheat board permit to do what he did. Yet he is treated in this harsh manner, in this hard way while at the same time individuals who go into other people's homes on invasions and destroy the property, who steal or who assault, even sexually assault or rape someone, are loose and walking the streets.
What in the world is going on? When does the punishment fit the crime? This bill is designed to do just that.
I appreciate what the Liberal member said. It is not a matter of why teenagers drink, why alcoholics end up behind the wheel when
they are drinking. None of that is really important. The important part of this whole thing is that a message has to be sent to any individual, regardless of the circumstances, that if they drink and get behind the wheel, the penalty will be severe. Not that it deters anyone. I will not argue that. However, the penalty will be severe. It is not an acceptable thing to do in Canada. We are going to develop a lower tolerance level for this dangerous activity.
That is the message that needs to be sent. I hope all members would wisely support this unanimously and get it under way.
The Deputy Speaker: Is the House ready for the question?
Some hon. members: Question.
The Deputy Speaker: The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
Some hon. members: On division.
The Deputy Speaker: Agreed to on division.
(Motion agreed to.)
The Deputy Speaker: Is there agreement to call it 2.30 p.m.?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Deputy Speaker: It being 2.30 p.m., this House stands adjourned until Monday at 11 a.m.
(The House adjourned at 2.16 p.m.)