House of Commons Hansard #74 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was war.

Topics

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, it has now been confirmed that Iraq has missiles and possibly drone aircraft that would be capable of carrying biological and chemical warheads.

Will the Minister of National Defence confirm whether or not there are sufficient chemical suits on board the Canadian ships that would protect each and every crew member in the event such weapons were used?

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is appropriate, given security concerns, to enter into every conceivable threat that might fall upon our ships. I can assure the hon. member as I said before that I share her deep concern that every possible measure be taken to enhance the safety and security of our soldiers, sailors and airmen. These measures have in fact been taken.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, because of their inadequate night vision capability, the Sea Kings are unsafe. In Operation Apollo they must approach within hundreds of yards to identify a ship at night despite the risk of being shot down. This deficiency has also cost lives in search and rescue operations.

The minister says the Sea Kings' night vision equipment will not be replaced until the new helicopters are brought in but that is not going to happen for several years. Why has the minister ignored the life and death concerns of the very people who know best, those who are serving as crews on our Sea Kings?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to answer a question in 30 something seconds when the question is so riddled with factual errors.

I might just say that I have been assured by the chief of defence staff, who himself used to fly helicopters, that the Sea Kings are safe. The same was said by three helicopter pilots that I consulted this morning.

In terms of the hon. member's contention that they are not safe, even the Montreal Gazette yesterday, in response to those criticisms, carried a headline “Sea King criticism 'doesn't fly'”.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the report here. The minister should have looked at it because it is written by those people who are involved every day with the Sea Kings. They say, in fact, that there are several problems.

Let us look at them. The only Sea King with the three ships in the gulf has been grounded. The government is spending a fortune to send over another one. Yesterday, we found out that the Sea Kings cannot fulfill many missions they are asked to fulfill and an internal report says that the lives of our air crews are at risk.

In the face of all of this, how can the minister just stand there and say everything is fine, and continue to put the lives of our Canadian men and women at risk?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it is difficult enough to answer when there are so many factual errors, but when there are about 17 questions, it becomes even more difficult.

For the reasons I have already given, I have received every assurance from sources more competent than the hon. member that these aircraft are indeed safe. It is always a risk when one flies, whatever the vehicle may be. These helicopters have carried out more than 2,000 missions in the gulf area and they have done so with exemplary success.

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, the war in Iraq highlights the immense vulnerability of civilians. The International Red Cross launched an urgent appeal yesterday to collect funds to assist the victims of the war.

Given this urgent appeal by the Red Cross, does the Canadian government intend to become more involved and surpass its usual obligations in order to minimize the terrible consequences of this war?

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Essex
Ontario

Liberal

Susan Whelan Minister for International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I said very clearly that Canada has already provided assistance to Iraq through contingency planning efforts, assistance that goes to the UNHCR, to the world food program, and to UNICEF. We have just received the Red Cross appeal today. We are taking it under very serious consideration and we will do more.

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, what is the Canadian government planning to do to ensure that other members of the international community participate in Red Cross efforts to help the victims of this war?

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Essex
Ontario

Liberal

Susan Whelan Minister for International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, as I said, we work with a number of UN partners and we will be receiving a number of appeals. We have just received an appeal from the Red Cross. We are taking a very serious look at that. Canada is doing its part and will do its part in humanitarian aid.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Public Works has been silent while his confused colleague at defence tries to explain away 10 years of Liberal foot-dragging on the maritime helicopter project.

Public works, as the contracting agent for the government, will be in defiance of Treasury Board guidelines and its own supply manual if it does not underscore best value in the upcoming helicopter contract documents.

Why will the minister not guarantee the basic principle of best value and that it will be followed in that procedure?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence made a major step toward the end of last year when he dealt with the bundling issue.

We are now at the letter of interest stage. We expect reactions to that very shortly and we will proceed as rapidly as possible according to each and every rule to ensure that every legal step is properly taken.

We will not fall into the trap of taking a misstep that could end this whole contract in a set of litigation that would last for 40 years.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, there we have it, some more bungling of the contract right there.

For 10 years the Liberal government has used weasel words--and we heard some more--and confusion to deflect attention from its political interference. It debundled it to start with. Now it is taking credit for putting it back together. The Liberal government broke it.

We have now learned that there will be a prequalification process never seen before where a favoured hand picked contractor will be told what is wrong with the bid so it can be changed. That is insider trader. Is the public works minister prepared to put his job on the line when this politicized process hits the courts?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I will ensure that every step is taken according to procedure and according to law so that every rule is properly respected, and the end result will be in the best interests of Canadian taxpayers.

Health
Oral Question Period

March 20th, 2003 / 2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, if there is an outbreak of disease among animals, the federal government has a system for working with local authorities to contain and deal with the outbreak. Such tragedies are inevitably local.

My question is for the Minister of Health. In the case of an outbreak of an infectious disease among humans, do we have a similar plan for working with local authorities?