House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fishing.

Topics

Zaire
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

Yesterday, the Canadian government chose to give up its leadership regarding a humanitarian mission to eastern Zaire. The Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the crisis had shifted to inside Rwanda where the problem now was the resettlement of refugees returning home. For his part, the defence minister announced yesterday the cancellation of the Canadian-led mission and questioned whether last week's highly publicized plan to air drop food would go ahead.

Are we to understand that the Canadian government has given up on eastern Zaire where, according to the UN envoy, some 300,000 refugees are still trapped, to concentrate its efforts solely on the resettlement of refugees who are returning to Rwanda?

Zaire
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the member knows fully well that nobody said yesterday that we were going to cancel the humanitarian mission in Zaire and Central Africa.

What we said is that military developments in that area are being monitored by a steering group made up of representatives from countries belonging to the coalition. General Baril is assessing and will continue to assess the situation in the field.

There is no doubt that the situation has evolved dramatically. Canada did not go there on a unilateral basis, and will not leave on a unilateral basis. What is happening over there is based on assessments made by all parties involved in the mission, and who are party to the agreement reached a few weeks ago as a result of the Canadian Prime Minister's initiative.

The sad thing in all this is that the hon. member does not seem to realize that the huge success we encountered over there resulted in the unprecedented return home of over 700,000 refugees from Zaire to Rwanda, without any casualty or endangering troops in the field.

Zaire
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, instead of claiming, as the defence minister did yesterday and as he is doing again today, that Canada played a major role as a catalyst in the return of refugees and that the whole process was a phenomenal success, will the minister admit that if he really wants to show some leadership, he should convene an international conference to find some permanent solutions to the conflicts in the great lakes region?

Zaire
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, I announced yesterday, and I even personally handed over to my colleague across the way the press release in question, that next Friday there will be a conference in Kigali where we will offer help to all the countries in the great lakes region.

We will offer food aid as well as other forms of assistance like justice reform and reconciliation measures for those people affected by the conflicts in that region.

I am happy that the member raised the question, but this is already being done. The conference has been convened for next Friday in Kigali, under the chairmanship of Canada.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

December 6th, 1996 / 11:40 a.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Department of National Defence has apparently lost some $200 million in equipment through the foreign military sales program. Audits show that it has used the program as a year end slush fund and that it cannot account for millions of dollars in missiles and torpedoes and other mission sensitive equipment.

This incompetence has been going on for 15 years. Can the minister explain why no action has been taken to rectify this waste and mismanagement at the Department of National Defence?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I do not accept the statement by the hon. member that $200 million has

been wasted and that nobody knows where missiles and other types of military matériel might be.

What I do agree with, however, in the context of the question put by my hon. friend, is that there have been some questions raised about the way this fund has been managed over many years because of the requirement of the American government with respect to the acquisition of military matériel from the United States.

An internal audit is being conducted. Unless he and the House of Commons, to whom we are accountable, are thoroughly satisfied with the results of that audit, we will take whatever measures are appropriate.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is no comfort to the Canadian taxpayer. The Department of National Defence has lost $200 million of taxpayers' money. Nothing has been done to rectify this problem which has been going on for 15 years.

The audit notes show that the problems have continued all the way through 1996, including today. The department knows full well about this mismanagement of taxpayers' money and has refused to take any action.

Will the minister immediately request that the Auditor General of Canada conduct a complete audit on the foreign military sales program and report back to the House before the Minister of Finance tables the next budget?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member refers to documentation that he has in his possession. In the interests of trying to do the best thing, and in the interests of the Canadian taxpayers, I would appreciate receiving copies of that information. I am sure the hon. member will have no difficulty in providing us that.

With respect to the internal audit to which I referred, it is ongoing.

In response to the final part of his question, with respect to the Auditor General of Canada, I have already had a discussion with the auditor general with respect to this matter.

Information Technology
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport.

In his recent report to the House, the auditor general noted that of the four information technology projects audited this year, with a total budget of three billion dollars, three are experiencing major problems while the fourth one will probably be significantly late.

In the case of the Canadian automated air traffic system or CAATS, how can the minister explain that renegotiation of the contract by his department resulted in a $217 million increase, and for less service?

Information Technology
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is quite correct in pointing out that in the history of the CASS program, the computer program he is talking about, which I might add is a very sophisticated program dealing with aerial navigation, not only have there been changes to the program put forward by Hughes, but also cost overruns.

This is a matter of considerable regret and concern to the government. We have done everything that we possibly can to try to ensure that we get best value for that contract. I must point out to him, although the Reform Party does not appear to want to hear the facts on this situation, that when entering a contracting situation for the development of future technology from a corporation such as the Hughes Aircraft, it is not possible to take the same approach as buying a can of soup on the shelf of a store. A certain amount of discussion must take place back and forth as the development takes place and as the scientists and computer technicians develop the technology that you may wish to put in place.

Information Technology
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is quite a difference between what the minister is saying today in the House and what his department told the auditor general, as noted in the auditor general's report.

Does the minister not agree that by giving biased information to the auditor general, maintaining that renegotiation of the contract did not lead to any substantial increase in cost, despite a real increase of $217 million, his department was trying to hide from Canada and Quebec taxpayers its poor management of the project?

Information Technology
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the imagination of the hon. member is impressive but not realistic. When developing new technology for highly sophisticated navigational systems, the contract must be flexible to some degree. In some instances you may be paying substantially less than expected if progress is better than anticipated beforehand. Sometimes you may find yourself having to accept less or pay more. We were in that situation.

I assure him, as he has made reference to the auditor general, that the auditor general received all that information. But I should point

out that we simply cannot compare the purchasing of technology which has not yet been developed, not yet in existence, with the purchase of some other product off the shelf of a supermarket. It is simply not possible to have the same approach.

Inevitably, situations will arise where the development takes a lot more time or costs a lot more money than people-before they know what they are really into in that regard-anticipate.

Oc Transpo
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Carleton—Gloucester, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour.

The residents of Canada's national capital region and surrounding areas will soon be suffering through a third week of a municipal bus strike. It is snowing and it is cold out there. People are trying to get to work. Students are trying to pursue their educations. Seniors are imprisoned in their homes and cannot get to medical appointments. Merchants are suffering and the unemployed cannot get around to find jobs.

Does the Minister of Labour intend to intervene in this bus strike in order to break the impasse between OC Transpo and the union?

Oc Transpo
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Saint-Léonard
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano Minister of Labour and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Labour Code, which governs the talks between the transport commission of the Ottawa-Carleton area and its union provides for the free collective bargaining process.

Both parties asked me to appoint a mediator which I did immediately. I urged both parties, union and management, but I especially urged the transport commission to use the mediator's services in order to find a settlement to this dispute. Then the people of the region would have the transportation service they need and want.

I hope both parties acknowledge this is the only way to solve disputes. Go to the negotiation table and seriously negotiate. If in the next few days that goodwill appears at the negotiation table then I am sure there will be a settlement.

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it has been reported that in the three years the government has been in power, 5,000 illegal immigrants have been smuggled into Canada from the Netherlands. Dutch police have expressed their surprise at the reluctance of the Canadian officials to do anything about this situation.

I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, what if anything is the government planning to do to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into Canada?