Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Most Righteous Smackdown of the Conservative Government

Following Thursday's question period, in which numerous questions were raised about the Maher Arar affair with Stockwell Day repeating the lie that the previous Liberal government 'did nothing' to attain his release, former Liberal leader Bill Graham (who was steaming mad) raised a question of privilege about the lack of veracity from the government in the house:

Graham: Mr Speaker, ...I know this matter has come before you once before as a question of privilege about question period and the veracity of members in the house during question period. I want to tell you Mr Speaker, that I would not rise on this matter if I did not believe that question period today revolved around a question which is essential for the security of Canada, the security frankly of the western world and the security of individual citizens in our country, Mr Speaker. This is an extremely grave matter when the government members in this house believe as if they were reading from a textbook written by Mr Goebbels when he was preparing for power in Germany, Mr Speaker. It is absolutely shameful, Mr Speaker.

Yesterday, the prime minister said, and I repeat Mr Speaker, the prime minister alleged that this party and myself as foreign minister did nothing...didn't I repeat...with respect to Mr Arar. Today, he repeated that allegation and the minister of public security [sic] did the same and sought to distort the evidence before the house and yourself, Mr Speaker.

Mr Speaker, the O'Connor report clearly shows the following facts: that I attended the minister of Syria in the United Nations; that we had regular phone calls; that I attempted to write a letter to the minister himself but was unable to do so because of instructions from the RCMP to the solicitor general at the time. Mr Speaker, this matter was only resolved because of the intervention of the then prime minister, Mr Chretien. And Mr Speaker, while all this was going on, all these efforts were being made to get Mr Arar out of jail Mr Speaker, we were unable to do so because of the actions of the RCMP and egged on by the present public security [sic] minister who in this house alleged that we were helping a known terrorist. Mr Speaker, he said it on the floor of this house. It's disgraceful to have him stand up and say what he said today. It's dishonourable, Mr Speaker. Some of us have here spent our lives in honourable service to our country and to this house of commons and to have dishonourable allegations of that nature made in a file of such importance to the security of Canada and of Canadians is not acceptable to the house. It's not acceptable to our country. It's not acceptable to our decorum. And I suggest to you, Mr Speaker, that it affects the privileges of all members of the house. It's just not possible to have a question period in which honourable members are allowed to so much distort the truth and tell lies about what took place on the public record that it destroys the credibility of this house of commons and I raise it as a personal privilege.

Day: Mr Speaker, first the basis, the genesis of the discussion today arose from a number of very serious remarks that were made by members opposite that I had labeled a certain individual as a terrorist. In fact, there is no record of that whatsoever, Mr Speaker. I take that as emotional and misinformed debate and shreik to the rooftops here in teh chamber and since they've raised it we may as well add to the record that I did have some questions reagrding Mr Arar - none of which quotation where I said that man was a terrorist.

Day then read some cherry-picked quotes of innocent questions he'd raised in an effort to show the opposite.

In response to Day's assertions (following the interjections of a couple of more MPs on different matters) Marlene Jennings blew a gasket and nailed not only Day, but Harper and Ablonzcy as well (as she read information coming in to her from her wireless blackberry). She had earlier asked a question of the government in which she wondered aloud how the Syrians might have viewed accusations in the house in 2002 of Arar being a terrorist as perhaps bolstering their opinion that he was one.

Jennings: Yes Mr Speaker, during question period, I asked two questions of the minister for public safety in which I referred to words that he spoke with respect to Mr Arar in 2002. Given the admonition that you have just made to the house, that members when they have a preamble, that members should be sure that they are being accurate in their facts. I would like to read for the house and clarify the quotation that I attributed to the minister of public safety. On November 19, 2002, to confirm what I said...

(interruption from an opposition member who probably called for a tabling of what she was reading to which Jennings replies: 'I will. It's in Hansard'.)

I refer the minister, the speaker to Hansard, November 19, 2002, the then member of the opposition who is now the minister of public security [sic] in which he specifically refers to 'answer concerning Maherr Arar and his possible terrorist ties' and it goes on. So the quotation that I made is accurate. It comes from Hansard.

I also made reference to the now parliamentary secretary to the minister of finance, and I will refer you to Hansard, November 18, 2002, in which the now parliamentary secretary for the minister of finance states 'It did not ...given that Arar was given dual Syrian and Canadian citizenship by the government [referring to the Canadian government]. It did not pick up on his terrorist links and the United States had to clue it in.'

That parliamentary secretary, the now parliamentary secretary to the minister of finance, went on but I would refer the speaker to Hansard, November, excuse me...November 18, 2002.

I also made reference to the present prime minister having equally called Mr Arar a terrorist or having referred to Mr Arar having possible terrorist links. I wish to inform this house where the reference comes from...if you would just hold on one moment (as she checks her Blackberry)...I will refer the speaker to Hansard, November 18, 2002, in which the now prime minister and who was then the leader of the official opposition...I could be wrong...of some party...said, 'Mr Speaker, the government's right hand does not know what its left hand is doing when it comes to national security. The foreign affairs minister said for two months that the United States had offered no justification or information for the deportation of Maher Arar. Yet, we now know that the RCMP knew of Mr Arar's activities. They questioned him nearly a year ago and they were notified weeks ago by the RCMP [sic] of its information. My question is when did the minister know of the RCMP's holding of information on ths matter?'

And, he also states Mr Speaker, this is the same day - November 18, 2002 - the present prime minister: did not know. It would be nice if there was actually somebody here to answer a question. While the minister participated in high level consultations to defend a suspected terrorist, it apparently took a trip by the US secretary of state to admit what he already knew.'

The present prime minister made that remark in reference to Mr Arar as a suspected terrorist on November 18, 2002. So Mr Speaker, when I asked my questions, my questions came from the official transcript of Hansard wherin the now minister of public security [sic], the now prime minister and the now parliamentary secretary to the minister of finance referred to Mr Arar back in November 2002 as either a suspected terrorist, as an individual having links with possible terrorists and at that point accused and denounced this government for, in their own words, trying to secure the liberation and freedom of a suspected terrorist. So when I ask these questions and the minister of public security [sic], the minister of justice, the minister of foreign affairs and just about every Conservative there laughs and makes jokes and we're talking about a Canadian citizen who was tortured and possibly as a result of their own statements in this house in 2002. It is appalling and it is a question of privilege.

You can read the Hansard transcripts (.pdf files) from November 18 and 19, 2002 here.

No comments:

Post a Comment