House of Commons Hansard #159 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was transport.

Topics

Transportation Amendment Act
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

It is a wonderful railway as my colleague said. It goes from Skagway, Alaska, up through the mountains. It was built a year after the gold rush and it was an engineering feat at that time. It is a very exciting railway for Canadians.

The railway system joined Canada from sea to sea which really helped tie the country together. It brought a number of disparate factions in Canada together. Joining francophones and anglophones and the first nations people of this country, and the various groups who have made this country their home, is a goal we should aim for.

I was a bit disappointed that we did not get to the next bill, which was the adoption bill with respect to children overseas getting their citizenship as soon as Canadians adopt them. This is not available to them right now. I have a number of constituents who have adopted Chinese children and it takes a long time for them to get their citizenship. I hope we can get this bill through the House very soon.

The railway symbolizes some of the things that our party stands for. We will be fighting for a vision of Canada in the upcoming election. The type of Canada we want to see is what we will be fighting for in the election. Through the official languages bill that we just passed in the House we are joining anglophones and francophones. This bill will increase understanding across Canada.

The refugee bill is still waiting and we have done a lot of work on it. We have done a tremendous job in bringing people from all over the world to Canada. These people make us a great nation. We have not asked them to assimilate and lose their culture, but instead, have asked them to celebrate their culture which makes Canada a great nation.

We have ambassadors all over the world who talk to various people which in turn helps our trade with other nations and helps to build a secure and peaceful world. Building a secure, peaceful and harmonious world is one of the goals and objectives of our party.

The Liberal Party has brought forward a number of bills to help people on lower incomes. Our nation is built on a strong economy and we can use that strong economy to help the needy. That is what we are going to be running on in this upcoming election.

I would like to acknowledge the members from all parties who are not running again. Everyone in this place is here because they believe in helping their constituents. They are honest about that and it does not matter what party they belong to.

I would like to ask the members from all parties to join me in congratulating the members who are not running again for their years of service. They include: the member for London--Fanshawe, Ontario; the member for Mississauga--Erindale, Ontario; the member for Edmonton--Mill Woods--Beaumont, Alberta; the member for Ottawa Centre, Ontario; the member for Verchères--Les Patriotes, Quebec; the member for Saint-Maurice--Champlain, Quebec; the member for Abbotsford, B.C.; the member for Okanagan--Shuswap, B.C.; the member for Kelowna--Lake Country, B.C.; the member for West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast--Sea to Sky Country, B.C.; the member for Westlock--St. Paul, Alberta; the member for Peace River, Alberta; the member for Wetaskiwin, Alberta; the member for British Columbia Southern Interior, B.C.; the member for Avalon, Newfoundland; the member for Beauce, Quebec; the member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, Ontario; the member for Chatham-Kent—Essex, Ontario; the member for Hamilton Mountain, Ontario; the member for Simcoe North, Ontario; the member for Ottawa West—Nepean, Ontario; the member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, New Brunswick; the member for Victoria, B.C.; the member for Peterborough, Ontario; and finally the dean on the Liberal side of the House, a person who came here as a busboy washing dishes in the House of Commons and would accede to the highest level in the land as a cabinet minister, the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, Ontario.

I would ask everyone in the House to join me in paying tribute to all those who have served in the House.

Transportation Amendment Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the comments of the hon. member and quite frankly, most of his comments were not directly related to the transportation bill, but I am sure were welcomed just the same by members who are retiring from the House of Commons.

With respect to this particular transportation bill, the hon. member talked about the highway system. I for one would liked to have seen something more done for the national transportation system in this country and I think the hon. member would agree with me.

If we look at the Trans-Canada Highway and the great infrastructure programs of the past, have we seen that in this Parliament or indeed the last several Parliaments? I suggest to the hon. member that in fact it did not happen and much more could be done. One of the things I am very pleased about is the Conservative Party platform and its support of transportation infrastructure.

The hon. member and others could have mentioned the bridges and border crossings. That too has the important transportation component. Those of us in the Conservative Party believe it is absolutely essential that the bridges in this country and the border crossings work because people make investment decisions in this country based on whether they think those border crossings and bridges are going to be available for them. When money gets put into infrastructure, I support and applaud it, but I have said over and over again throughout this Parliament that not enough has been done in those particular areas.

The hon. member mentioned the railways. Which party's vision was it that built the railways to begin with? It was Sir John A. Macdonald and the Conservative Party. People can check out who was opposing that great father of Confederation, Sir John A. Macdonald. The descendants of those individuals are right across the aisle.

When we look for vision in this country, I invite everyone to look to the pages of Canadian history to see the great work that has been done beginning in 1867 by Sir John A. Macdonald. When the hon. member talks about railways, he has to talk about the Conservative Party and everything it has done.

The Conservative Party has a long history of supporting everything that is good and right to build this country of Canada. The Conservative Party helped begin Canada and we will take it forward in the 21st century.

The House resumed from November 24 consideration of the motion.

Supply
Government Orders

November 28th, 2005 / 6:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. It being 6:30 p.m., pursuant to order made on Thursday, November 24, 2005, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion of the member for Calgary Southwest relating to the business of supply.

Call in the members.

Before the taking of the vote:

Supply
Government Orders

6:50 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. I wish to advise hon. members that there will be a reception following the vote tonight in Room 216 to permit hon. members to exchange season's greetings. All members are invited.

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

Supply
Government Orders

7:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Supply
Adjournment Proceedings

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, if anything demonstrates the culture of entitlement that has poisoned Ottawa and the reason the government has lost the moral right to govern, it has to be the government's record on military procurement in general, more specifically helicopter procurement. The fateful decision 12 years ago by the then finance minister and now the leader of the Liberal Party to politicize the purchase of the search and rescue helicopters is the scandal that will not go away.

I completely reject any comments from the Liberal Party that I am pursuing the culpability of the federal government over the deaths of helicopter pilots for partisan reasons. If my efforts to hold the Prime Minister accountable for the partisan political decision to cancel the purchase of search and rescue helicopters save the life of one brave pilot, I will consider my efforts a success. If anyone is playing partisan politics with the well-being of our soldiers, it has to be the Prime Minister.

I compliment the men and women who maintain the equipment in the Canadian Forces. It is a tribute to their skills that there has been as little loss of life as there has been over the years.

We owe it to the men and women we ask to put their lives on the line for Canadians to provide them with the best equipment.

Four years before the tragic accident that cost the lives of Captain Colin Sonoski and Captain Juli-Ann Mackenzie, the Auditor General warned the Liberals that military budget cuts were compromising the safety of Canadian troops.

In his report, the Auditor General stated the following, “The ultimate goal of defence procurement is...to build defence capability”. Vehicles that cannot do the job do not represent good value for money. He stated:

The Griffon Helicopter best illustrates the implications of not enough money and inadequate analysis.

Operational tests that could have been carried out on the Griffon to assess the aircraft's suitability for military use were not done before acquisition. As a result, the Department is now discovering that the aircraft's capabilities are being stretched to their limits, particularly when the Griffon is used in applications that push its envelope, such as search and rescue operations.

That quote from the report of the Auditor General was provided to the Liberals four years before the tragic accident that claimed the lives of two Canadian soldiers, yet this Prime Minister chose to do nothing.

Just so Canadians who are watching these proceedings understand the context of this debate, even some Liberal MPs are disgusted by the way the Prime Minister plays politics with military procurement. At the public accounts committee, which reviewed the Griffon helicopter purchase, a now retired Liberal MP had this to say:

Quite frankly, I am getting a little tired of sitting here listening to all the equivocation...I am fascinated by the fact that someone admitted here today exactly what I said at the last meeting. It was a civilian helicopter which you painted brown....

In response, the department indirectly stated that budget cutbacks by the Liberal government forced the defence department to purchase what it could afford, to which the same member that I just quoted then said, “You have compromised”.

The compromise of the Prime Minister when he bragged to Canadians about the deficit had a human cost that Canadians are now just beginning to realize. Canadians now know that a safety compromise became necessary because the right helicopter was the one cancelled by the Prime Minister.

Compromises in equipment cost lives. We can just ask the families of the soldiers where there was a compromise in equipment. The audit department went on to state for the record in committee that, surprise, surprise, “The problems...experienced with the Griffon were unexpected...Apparently there is something in our operational profile or climatic conditions that created problems”.

While the Minister of Defence chose to respond to my question in a manner that ignored my reference to the Auditor General, the additional decision by the government to ignore the question of what is acceptable risk should have been considered in his response to me and to the men and women who are currently serving in Canada's armed forces.

It is relevant to quote Major-General Natynczyk. I asked him at defence committee what is “acceptable risk” for the Griffon helicopter pilots. His response to me was that while the goal is an acceptable level of safety, the Canadian Forces airworthiness program cannot foresee or prevent hazards to military aviation.

This is acceptable risk to the government, a government that has lost the moral right to govern. The time has come to restore accountability to the affairs of our nation.

Supply
Adjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca
B.C.

Liberal

Keith Martin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, this exercise illustrates the woolly-headed behaviour of the Conservative Party. The government was just defeated on a motion, yet the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke wants to debate an issue. After the Conservatives have laid waste and eliminated the government of the 38th Parliament, after passing the non-confidence motion, in which they sided with the Bloc and the NDP, the member now wants to debate an issue and is expecting the government to do something about it. That nonsensical thinking and I am being generous in using the word “thinking”, illustrates what goes on within the Conservative Party. It makes no sense. It is illustrative of the type of intellectual discourse that would occur in their policy making if the Conservatives were to come to power.

I wish to inform those who are listening that Mr. Don Lindsay, who will be the Liberal member of Parliament for the riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke after the next election is someone who will not engage in such nonsensical, stupid, utterly absurd non-debates. The public should understand that.

To set the record straight on the military, the Liberal government has made the biggest investment in the last 20 years in our armed forces. The government has invested nearly $13 million over the next five years. We are engaging in a massive transformation, including 5,000 personnel for the regular forces and 3,000 personnel for the reserves.

The government has streamlined the whole procurement process. The new procurement of our tactical lift aircraft to replace our Hercules is an example of what we are doing to streamline a process that has been too lengthy.

The Liberal government has gone much further than that. It has increased resources to personnel in the forces. The average wage in the Canadian Forces today is $52,000 a year. This is a big difference from before.

We are also engaging in the procurement of the equipment that our Canadian Forces need, not what the government thinks the forces need. This ensures that the forces get the equipment in a timely fashion.

The government has also made improvements for our veterans with the new veterans charter. The government has put together the biggest change in 40 years in how we care for our veterans.

Our Liberal government has engaged in a massive transformation of our Canadian Forces. They will be an effective fighting force for the 21st century. It is the Liberal government that has done that. It has made a significant investment over the next five years that will continue on for the next 20 years. The transformation will make sure that Canadians are secure at home and abroad. Our forces will have the equipment, the tools and the personnel they need to do the job which they do so nobly.

At the end of the day those who are listening will have a choice when they vote in the next election. The government has put forward its policies for all to see on specific things such as transport, foreign affairs, children, the economy and working with the provinces.

The government has engaged in the biggest economic revival of our country in decades. Canada has the lowest unemployment rate in 30 years, and the most vibrant private sector since the 1960s. Canada has more jobs and more resources. There is more money in the pockets of Canadians. There is a reformation and a strengthening of our social programs.

The voters have to ask themselves which party has the specific solutions to deal with the issues Canadians care about. Compare what the Conservatives, the NDP and the Bloc have to offer and what those parties are prepared to do for Canadians. The government's record is on the line and it is one which we will put up against any of the other parties.

Supply
Adjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians trust government to act on their best behalf, even when problems are pointed out by the Auditor General, even when all too depressing events occur in Ottawa. The culture of entitlement that is being substituted for democratic governing in Ottawa means that the Liberal Party acts as though it can ignore the findings of the Auditor General. There is no accountability any more.

Things must change in Ottawa. Only with a change in government can accountability be restored to the democratic process in Canada. Only then will the Liberal Party be held responsible for all the bad decisions it has made, particularly when it comes to Canada's military and our place in the world today.

It is only fitting that today, on the last day of the government's being in power, we are talking about the decision it made on its first day in power, a decision that cost lives. It is time for an election.

Supply
Adjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is the last speech of the 38th Parliament, and it may be my last speech. I do not know.

First, I thank the constituents of Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca who have given me the honour of representing them for the last 12 years.

I got into politics, like most members of Parliament, to serve the Canadian public. It has been dispiriting this year to see the level of discourse go down in such a guttural fashion. I hope in the future we all will come here to serve the public, to help those who are helpless, to save lives where lives need to be saved, to help the underprivileged, to strengthen our economy and to dream and aspire to our vision for Canada, for the great country in which we live and for which the honour has been betrothed upon us to serve our country.

I am an immigrant to Canada. We emigrated from England when I was a little boy. On a personal level, our country has given me so much and it has been my honour in this place to give back in some small way to the country that I love so much, Canada.

Supply
Adjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The motion to adjourn the House is deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:22 p.m.)

The First Session of the 38th Parliament was dissolved by Royal Proclamation on November 29, 2005.