House of Commons Hansard #106 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove
Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General made one recommendation and that was for us to respond to the fact that officials at the Department of National Defence did not provide what he sees as accurate cost estimates for the F-35s. He wants the Department of National Defence to table those new estimates in Parliament.

We agree with him but we will go one step further to ensure taxpayers' interests are protected and to ensure these estimates are validated independently. We will create a secretariat outside of the Department of National Defence. We have frozen funding, and there will be no purchase of any new aircraft until these conditions are met.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the minister of conflicts of interests, also known as le deputé de Mégantic—L'Érable, was at Public Works, he was supposed to provide oversight for the largest military procurement in our history but he dropped the ball, the latest item on a long list of his failures to exercise due diligence.

Multiple ethics investigations, violating conflict of interest laws and now failing to rein in the F-35 fiasco when he had the chance, will he now take responsibility for his role in allowing the F-35 fiasco to spin out of control?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove
Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the hon. member that the largest procurement in the history of Canada was the shipbuilding procurement strategy and it was delivered very successfully by the government. In fact, it is seen as one of the best procurements internationally.

We have taken the Auditor General's recommendation to heart. He said that the Department of National Defence needed to refine its cost estimates and table them in Parliament, and we agree with him. We will not move forward with this purchase until that is done.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the F-35 fiasco spun out of control on the Conservatives' watch. The Auditor General now confirms that the Parliamentary Budget Officer got his numbers right when he released his cost estimates on the F-35s a year ago. The government knew the PBO was correct but the Conservative ministers attacked him anyway.

Why did the government viciously attack the PBO when it knew his numbers were correct? Why did it do that?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Vaughan
Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino Associate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General spoke and we have accepted his recommendations. We have listened to him and we are moving forward. We have frozen the acquisition funding in anticipation of refined cost estimates before the decision is made for any acquisition.

We have not signed a contract to purchase a replacement aircraft and, to date, we have not spent any public funds to purchase a replacement aircraft.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me try again.

The Minister of Finance recently called PBO numbers “unbelievable”, “unreliable” and “incredible”.

What is unbelievable is the government attacking the PBO when it knew he was right. What is unreliable is any financial estimates the Conservatives give Parliament. What is really incredible is that the government still refuses to make the PBO independent.

Will the government now withdraw its smears against the Parliamentary Budget Officer and apologize to him?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Vaughan
Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino Associate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive the best value. Funding in this regard will remain frozen. Canada will not purchase new aircraft until further due diligence, oversight and transparency are applied to the process of replacing Canada's aging CF-18 fleet.

Canada remains committed to ensuring that the Royal Canadian Air Force has the aircraft it needs to do the job we ask of it.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government's handling of the F-35 file is a disgrace and no minister is willing to stand up and take responsibility. The Auditor General made it clear that for too long Conservative ministers have kept parliamentarians and, indeed, the public in the dark.

Getting to the bottom of this fiasco is in the best interest, not only of our armed forces but of all Canadians. Will the government agree to immediately hold open, full and public hearings on the F-35 fiasco at the public accounts committee, yes or no?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove
Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, committee business is up to the committee, but I would encourage as much transparency as possible on this file.

I believe that what the Auditor General is recommending is the right thing to do. We have already put in motion steps to do exactly that. We will not move forward with the purchase. The allocated funding for the F-35 has been frozen until the Department of National Defence tables updated cost estimates publicly to Parliament and we validate those independently.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, two words, transparency and accountability. We should remember those words--

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. member for Westmount—Ville-Marie has the floor.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Auditor General told us that the F-35 program was anything but transparent. In fact, it was a cover-up. The government also told us yesterday that there was no intention to be accountable in any way whatsoever, and again today, at least not for the ministers who were involved.

The Minister of National Defence is responsible to Parliament and to Canadians for this fiasco. Will he do the honourable thing and stand up and resign?

National Defence
Oral Questions

April 4th, 2012 / 2:40 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that is not what the Auditor General has said. The member should be very careful about mischaracterizing the words of the Auditor General.

We have said that we accept his conclusions. We have acted on the recommendation, as outlined by the Minister of Public Works and Government Services. We will continue to move forward on this file with her on the point with respect to these steps, this process that would improve accountability, transparency and greater clarity on the need for this project.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the government created an F-35 secretariat, composed entirely of the same old incompetent gang, which was missing in action in the first place, plus the minister for gazebos.

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Budget Officer was the only competent public official awake during the entire debacle. He was right and the Conservatives knew they were wrong. We trust the PBO, not the Conservatives.

If the Prime Minister will not fire himself, will he at least fire the three blind mice and appoint Kevin Page in their place?