House of Commons Hansard #74 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pension.

Topics

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

We have obviously touched a cord here with the Progressive Conservatives.

The other issue I want to bring up at this time has to do with this envelope of equipment acquisition by the Department of National Defence, specifically helicopters. We all know that the military has been acquiring new helicopters for about five to ten years. It was necessary to replace virtually all its equipment but we were not going to do it in one day.

The first helicopter equipment to be replaced was the HU series, sometimes known as the Huey helicopter. These were 1950s and 1960s vintage helicopters and they were replaced with the Griffon helicopter. Those deliveries were commenced and completed over a period two to four years ago. The Griffon helicopter is successfully fulfilling its new role in the Canadian armed forces.

We then got to the search and rescue helicopter, which is a land based dedicated search and rescue piece of equipment. We have been flying a Labrador twin rotor helicopter on both coasts for many years. It is manufactured by Boeing and is a good piece of equipment. It has stood the test of time but it has outlived its lifespan. After the cancellation of the EH-101 in 1993-94, the government commenced the acquisition process for a replacement of the Labradors. That particular replacement is known as the Cormorant.

As everyone will realize, a period of time is required to commission a replacement, design it and get it constructed. These are custom designed pieces of military equipment for particular countries. Canada wants a certain helicopter that will do a certain job. The frame of the helicopter is essentially off the shelf but the components and the equipment necessary to allow that equipment to do its specific role has to be customized and prepared carefully. The process of replacing the Labradors is underway.

We are just a few weeks away from the delivery of the first search and rescue Cormorant. I am hopeful that Canadians will get a chance to see the first one on the front page of one of the newspapers. This process has been in play for approximately five years. I remember, as other colleagues will, when that contract was being dealt with by the government. We had a number of incessant repeated questions from the opposition in question period, scrutinizing, questioning and criticizing the process of acquiring that particular replacement helicopter. That process is virtually completed now. Deliveries are imminent and I am looking forward to the first delivery, as are the armed forces.

The member opposite put her hand on her heart. As people, do we care about the men and women who fly this equipment? Of course we do. We have replaced the Hueys, we are about to replace the Labradors and now we are embarking on the replacement of the Sea Kings, which are old inventions as well.

I would like to point out that Canada is not the only country flying Sea Kings. A lot of countries, including NATO countries are flying Sea Kings. All of us know they are outrageously expensive to maintain, which is one of the reasons why we are replacing them, but they have served their role well.

None of our armed forces personnel will fly in an unsafe Sea King, nor will any member of any armed forces of any country. They are all safe to fly. It is one of the reasons it costs so much to maintain them. To maintain them properly so that they are safe and effective in their role takes a lot of bucks and a lot of downtime, but when they fly, they are safe.

Once in a while we have a Sea King that gets a flat tire. My own automobile gets a flat tire from time to time. I do my best to maintain it. I drive it safely and our military flies its Sea Kings safely.

Now we are in a process of replacing the Sea Kings. The government has made a decision to enhance the prospects for competition, in part to ensure that we get the best price available. As I said earlier, the frame for the new helicopter will probably come off the shelf from a multinational aviation company that produces helicopters and it could be one in Canada. The components and equipment that go into the helicopter for its maritime purpose and to primarily fly off the back end of a naval ship, among other roles, has to be carefully designed and sourced among competitive sources for price. Therefore, the contract has been split in two. Rather than being stuck with a situation where we might have had one, two or three sole source suppliers for one contract, we now have approximately 13 potential suppliers for various components of the replacement helicopter.

As we go forward, I fully expect the opposition to ask many questions and allege many things about the process here. I would just like all of us to get a grip and to understand the perspective. We are irrevocably embarked on an acquisition process to replace the Sea King helicopter. We will get one as soon as we can for the best price that we can, and we will get the best possible equipment that we can.

If the only window the public gets on the acquisition process is questions in question period with 30 second answers, maybe we should have a debate sometime in the House on the whole process and on the military equipment, but that would be up to colleagues in the House on both sides and House leaders. However, right now today we have other business. Therefore, I move:

That the House do now proceed to orders of the day.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 127
Routine Proceedings

11:20 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from June 5 consideration of the motion that Bill S-17, an act to amend the Patent Act, be read the third time and passed.

Patent Act
Government Orders

June 7th, 2001 / 11:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, for the sake of the House and those interested in the process and in patent law, I will go through some of the technical reasons the bill is before the House. It is a bill that our party is supporting, much to the surprise I suppose of many across the way. It is not often that we stand in this place and support a bill brought in by the government.

Following a recent World Trade Organization ruling, the bill was introduced to bring Canada's patent laws into conformity with our trade obligations. Under the bill, all patents would last 20 years beyond the date applications are filed. Currently patents filed prior to October 1, 1989, under the old act, expire 17 years after the date they were granted. We are talking about a three year extension of the Patent Act.

Bill S-17 would not apply to patents that have already lapsed so the arguments we have heard in the House regarding that do not apply. As well, in cases where the old rule provides a longer period of protection than the new rule, the old rule would still apply. This would happen in cases where more than three years have passed between the time a patent application was filed and the time it was granted.

Bill S-17 would repeal subsection 55.2(2) of the Patent Act which has allowed for stockpiling of a product prior to the expiry of the patent.

When we talk about patent protection, what are we talking about? We are talking about copyright laws that would apply, for example, to writers, other artists, inventors and so on. Patents give their holders time to benefit from their research and ideas and from the money they have spent in developing them. In other words, they give them time to profit from their work, in many cases good work.

In this case we are talking about patent drug laws. We are talking about sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars being invested by drug companies to develop new drugs to help combat disease and prevent death. They do that at great expense. By refusing to invest here until we modernized our patent laws, these companies were sending a signal to Canada that they would not build factories and research facilities here unless they had patent protection to prevent others from copying what they do.

Research communities in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and other parts of Canada, not just in big cities but in smaller areas, were being denied the benefits of that type of research and the jobs and prosperity it brings.

The opposition parties in 1987, the major opposition party at the time being of course the Liberal Party, raged against the legislation we brought in, Bill C-22, the first act we brought in to protect patents.

In 1992 we did the same thing again and made further changes to improve the intellectual property protection given to pharmaceutical companies while strengthening the powers of the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board Canada. The argument that the Liberal Party and the NDP waged at the time was that it would increase drug prices.

In a very basic sense, the Liberals asked us why we would provide drug companies with patent protection which would not allow generic companies to copy their products and which would outlaw copycat drugs for 20 years. They said that it would not help or enhance the health care system but that it would hurt and harm it. They said that it was the wrong thing to do.

The Liberals at the time, including the present Minister of Industry, who is now spearheading the bill through the House, argued that it would be wrong and railed against it. We have had many quotes in the House over the last number of days. Some of the quotes come from famous statements the present minister then made in committee and on the floor of the House railing against the very bill he now supports.

The truth is that what we did then, although some might disagree, and I know that even some government members disagree with the present bill, was the right thing. We created thousands of jobs in the pharmaceutical research industry in Canada. The evidence is there. Members opposite will tell us that the goal of the bill was exceeded in terms of jobs and investment in Canada.

We often talk about the brain drain, and there are a number of reasons for it. Obviously one of them is our tax regime. Unless we bring our tax regime in line with our partner to the south we will always have people leaving Canada to go where they will be rewarded for their work and not taxed to death. To a degree that argument is true, although there are other things that hold people in Canada simply because of our style of life. Considering the health care and other benefits we have in Canada, not everyone is attracted by high wages and low taxes.

We are losing a lot of top notch people to the south who go to work for pharmaceutical and research companies in the United States. The bill we introduced in 1987, Bill C-22 at the time, followed by Bill C-91 in 1992, completely stopped the transfer of talent from Canada to the United States. They worked.

The strengthening of the Patented Medicines Prices Review Board Canada also worked. As evidence of that, in the United States today there is a raging debate about drug prices and the high cost of patent medicines. Why are they so much higher in the United States than in Canada?

Patent Act
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge, ON

There is a 40% exchange rate.

Patent Act
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Considering the exchange rate, and I know the member for—