Bad taste

Not sure what to make of this exchange from QP yesterday, so it will be reprinted here without comment.

Was the Prime Minister simply, and without ulterior motive, marking the deaths of three Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan? Was Gilles Duceppe wrong to suggest otherwise? Or did the Prime Minister, as Duceppe alleges, use the moment to dodge a difficult question? Or was the Prime Minister correct in saying that the Duceppe’s question was inappropriate in the first place?

Either way, a wholly uncomfortable moment to witness.

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I would first like to extend my condolences to the families of the three soldiers killed in Afghanistan. According to an American report on human rights obtained by the media, detainees transferred by Canadian authorities to Afghans were tortured. The Department of Foreign Affairs has refused to confirm this information. Given that he is answering questions from the American media on the Afghanistan mission, can the Prime Minister tell us whether or not his government has received complaints about torture from prisoners transferred to Afghan authorities?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat surprised by this question today. We would like to offer our condolences to the families and comrades of the courageous soldiers killed in Afghanistan. They are doing a good job over there, an important job for the Afghan people, for the world. On this side of the House, we honour their sacrifices.

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, we honour their sacrifices as well. However, I find that, once again, the Prime Minister is using the death of these soldiers for purely political purposes. It is shameful. He should answer the question.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

The Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie has the floor.

Mr. Gilles Duceppe: Mr. Speaker, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs stated that it was the responsibility of the Afghan authorities to ensure the safety of transferred detainees. However, transferring a prisoner who may face torture contravenes the Geneva Convention. Does the Prime Minister realize that his government is responsible for ensuring the safety of detainees transferred to the Afghan army?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it is the Leader of the Bloc who has chosen to ask a question that is so inappropriate today. Our soldiers respect their international commitments. They have reviewed and changed their procedures to ensure that they respect these responsibilities.

Mr. Speaker, I want to once again, in both languages, thank the Canadian military for the tremendous sacrifices and dangers they undertake on our behalf. I do not think they have to put up with that kind of stuff from a separatist party.



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