In simpler times

A not disinterested observer passed on this QP exchange, from Feb. 6, 2002, yesterday.

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, on January 29 the Prime Minister told the House that Canada had reached an agreement with the United States regarding the transfer and treatment of prisoners captured in Afghanistan that is based on compliance with the Geneva convention. However, if this agreement does exist, it is so vague that the Americans must now provide clarification. Did the Prime Minister, as head of a government, not act imprudently by authorizing the transfer of prisoners without having first received firm assurances from the United States that the Geneva convention would be respected?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have been in politics for many years and I know that Canada, the United States, Great Britain and all western countries have always respected the Geneva convention. Therefore, it was not imprudent on the part of the government, in the context of our fight against terrorism, to side with a nation that was attacked and not become the defenders of terrorists, as the Bloc Quebecois has.

Years later, it’s difficult to say which part of the answer is more unsettling: Mr. Chretien’s suggestion that the Bloc is sympathetic to terrorism or Mr. Chretien’s assurance that the United States could be counted on to follow the Geneva conventions. The rest of the exchange is here.

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