The War on Iraq

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): ): Mr. Speaker, it seems very clear that the government is well down the slippery slope into war. Parliament has been very clear: no involvement in Iraq. Yet we have three Canadian ships escorting Bush's ships of war into combat as far north as Kuwait. Today we learn of a new risk of being rammed by Iraqi boats.

Mr. Bush says that the Geneva Convention applies to POWs in Iraq because it is a traditional war. Yet he says on the other hand it does not apply to prisoners of war on terror because it is not traditional.

I have a very simple question for the Prime Minister. If a Canadian sailor is captured by Iraq, escorting a ship in Bush's war does the Geneva Convention apply?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have stated very clearly that the ships operating in this part of the world have been there for a year. They are there to help the people who are fighting terrorism in Afghanistan.

We have been there. We have served there. Our soldiers have done a great job. They have received compliments from everybody. Not only that, they were asked to take the lead of these ships long before the war. They are doing Canada proud, and they will keep doing their job because it is a fight against terrorism.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting that the Prime Minister refuses to answer this simple question. The government had an answer when it was American POWs, but no answer when it is a Canadian in the same war.

On March 20 the Prime Minister said that Canada had no troops in Iraq. On Monday, that became no troops in combat. Yesterday he confirmed that Canadians were aboard AWACs, which are directing bomb runs.

Now we are getting calls from families of Canadians serving with British troops in Iraq. Even defence officials are saying that Canadians are inside Iraq.

Again, my question is for the Prime Minister. If helping to select bombing targets and serving with tanks are not combat roles - what the heck is it?

Hon. John McCallum (Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member referred to the will of the House. Indeed, the will of the House has been expressed clearly in response to a motion, which states:

--consequently the government [of Canada] repatriate all soldiers and military material in the region that could be used in a war effort in the conflict in Iraq.

This motion was soundly defeated by the House one week ago by a ratio of four to one. Indeed, in terms of the exchange soldiers and the ships, the House has spoken very clear.

This Question Period Transcript was posted on March 27, 2003