NDP calls for Emergency Debate on Afghanistan

In light of the terrible events last week in Afghanistan that saw eight Canadians killed and the government spending more than a half billion dollars on Cold War-era tanks, I wrote to opposition party leaders uging them to bring in a motion to the House calling for a debate on this mission that is going “off the rails.”

In today’s Globe and Mail, Gloria Galloway reports that the NDP called for an emergency debate, but it was rejected by the Speaker. Nevertheless, there is still the possibility that the Liberals could bring in an opposition motion on Thursday. We are contacting Liberal MPs today.

Below is the transcript from NDP Defence Critic Dawn Black.

Steve

Request for Emergency Debate

[S.O. 52]

The Speaker : The Chair has received an application for an emergency debate from the hon. member for New Westminster—Coquitlam. I now call upon her to make her representations on this matter.

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Dawn Black MPMs. Dawn Black (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP) : Mr. Speaker, I am asking for this emergency debate so that the House can discuss comments that were made by the Minister of National Defence yesterday.The effects of these comments were to announce in fact a new defence policy for the Government of Canada that will result in larger expenditures of public funds and basically a change in Canadian foreign policy.I believe that the announcement made by the Minister of National Defence, that Canada should expect to be involved in heavy combat with armour for the next 10 years to 15 years in different parts of the world, is actually momentous, historically significant and without precedent.The minister was talking about an undertaking three times longer than the great war or than World War II. This is something which clearly falls within the administrative responsibilities of government. I cannot foresee, nor has the government proposed, a time for this issue to be debated in any other way.I felt it was my duty to raise this as quickly as possible with you, Mr. Speaker, and I believe that Parliament should speak on this issue which affects the lives of tens of thousands of members of the Canadian Forces. Parliament must debate on this before the government makes commitments to conflicts over the next 15 years.For Parliament not to debate this issue today would send the signal to the executive branch of government that it can pursue whatever policies it wishes and that Parliament is unconcerned with their plans or with their expenditures in the conduct of war.I therefore believe that this matter meets the test of Standing Order 52(6).

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Speaker’s Ruling

The Speaker : The Chair appreciates the interest that the hon. member for New Westminster—Coquitlam has shown in bringing this matter to the attention of the House today but having reviewed the letter that she forwarded to me, the notice that she is required to give pursuant to the standing order together with a copy of the interview, and having heard her remarks today, I must say that I am not satisfied that this request for an emergency debate meets the exigencies of the standing orders at this time and accordingly I am going to decline her request today.

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