Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Conservatives Behaving Badly: The Afghanistan Debate

From Monday's Hansard, our so-called "honourable" minister of Veterans Affairs:

Hon. Greg Thompson:

Missing in action, Mr. Speaker, hiding under the furniture. The member from Sackville is always on his hind legs in here ranting about what he would do, I guess, but his record speaks for itself. Those members have done absolutely nothing. For them to suggest that we are doing nothing is just fundamentally wrong, because we were asking for their support on the floor of the House of Commons in a minority Parliament. We were asking for their support to make this happen and they denied us that support. They voted against our veterans.

An hon. member: They scurried out.

Hon. Greg Thompson:

They did scurry out, Mr. Speaker, and they will continue to do that because they do not believe in the mission, they do not support our veterans, and they do not support our men and women in uniform. That is the sorry state of the NDP: all talk and no action. I guess that is why they are the fourth party in the House of Commons. I just wonder where their support is.

It is no secret that in military circles the leader of the NDP--and I have a base in my riding as members well know, Camp Gagetown, and I have met many of the military types across the country--is referred to as “Taliban Jack”. That tells it all. The NDP does not support our men and women in uniform and they know it. The NDP record is deplorable. Those members should be ashamed of themselves.


Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity this evening, despite my mild laryngitis, to debate the motion that is now before us.

I am pleased to follow my colleague who very ably represents Ottawa Centre. I am also pleased to say he has succeeded me as the foreign affairs critic for the New Democratic Party and doing an excellent job.

When I entered the chamber this evening, I was listening attentively and respectfully to the Minister of Veterans Affairs who was commenting, and I thought quite appropriately, that we all share a duty.

Those of us in this House who are privileged to serve the people of our communities, and Canadians generally, have an obligation to honour our military men and women, both in times of peace and in times of war. I was nodding in assent and was actually going to compliment him on being inclusive in representing all of us in those comments.

Then he turned and engaged in the most viscous, most vile, and most virulent attack on the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore who is not here in the House in any way, shape, or form to defend himself and who, I have to say, has probably done more for veterans and for the military in my 10 years in Ottawa than any other member in this chamber.

Let Canadians be the judge, but I thought it was unfortunate and ironic. For a few brief moments the Minister of Veterans Affairs, I thought, was going to rise to the occasion, however, he actually descended into the depths and conducted a viscous attack on a man who has championed the veterans independence program and the widows that have been left behind. He has championed the children who are not getting the kind of treatment needed to deal with their wounds resulting from the death or injury of absent family members and returned family members.

He is also the man who has championed the victims of agent orange. I could go on and on, but I think we will just let those Canadians who know better come to their own conclusions based on the evidence and not based on this astounding rant that we just heard and is now on the public record.

I listened earlier this afternoon when the Minister of Veterans Affairs actually made some very sweeping statements that were dead wrong and utterly disrespectful. How those members elevate the debate, how they act to contribute to a respectful debate, I do not know, but I have to say he hit a raw never. He made a sweeping reference that New Democrats do not care about our troops. They never cared about the military. I do not know if he said never will, but I am sure that was in his mind too.


At that point, Peter MacKay joined in and piled on the accusations against the NDP.

Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, I am always puzzled when that member and members of the NDP cloak some of their questions and comments in this rhetoric of casting aspersions on everyone else in the House but then somehow draping this sanctimonious cloak over themselves to say that anybody else who makes a comment that might be the least bit offensive or rubs somebody the wrong way is terrible but they can do the same thing and not have that standard apply to them.

What I find even more troubling and contradictory is the suggestion that peace is just going to arrive, that it is just going to fall out of the air somehow in Afghanistan, that development will expand, that we will be able to build more schools and roads and that more programs will simply appear without any security. That is where there is such an absolute disconnect, bordering on disillusionment, when we hear this coming from the NDP.

As for her umbrage taken at the comments made by the Minister of Veterans Affairs, she should check the record. The truth hurts. When we check the record and see the actual voting pattern over the last 10 years by that member and other members of the NDP when it comes to support for the military and veterans, the record speaks for itself.

Yes, it does speak for itself, MacKay. The NDP has no interest in engaging in endless wars just to prop up the military-industrial complex - disguised and sold as humanitarian intervention. It also has no interest in seeing more Canadians killed in the name of Bush's war on terror. The truth hurts, doesn't it Mr MacKay?

This "debate", with Conservatives flinging out whatever charges they think might stick, is absolutely insulting to Canadians. This is about life and death, but the Conservatives are treating it like a schoolyard fight and the fact that the Liberals are propping them up and cheering them on is disgusting. The Liberals - who still claim to have so many questions about the compromise motion offered by the Conservatives - yet who refuse to suggest any amendments. You would think that the one thing they would know by now is that when you support the Conservatives, you end up getting stabbed in the back. And, worse, our soldiers will be paying the actual, physical and psychological price for their willingness to trust such a vile bunch of warmongers who have repeatedly failed to tell Canadians the truth about what's happening in Afghanistan. It's an endless cycle of death and destruction, thanks to the incompetence of the Bush administration, and no motion in our parliament can fix that, no matter how its spun.

Bring our troops home now.

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