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

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General has been very clear on responsibility for this in the report and the government is taking the responsibility to act on his recommendations.

We will re-examine, as the Auditor General has suggested, the cost estimates before proceeding. We will ensure there is a more independent process to verify the accuracy of those estimates.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is the same government that vilified the Parliamentary Budget Officer for his report and for his numbers, which have been completely vindicated by what the Auditor General had to say. It is the same government that denied the veracity of what was going on with the congressional budget office in the United States.

When we asked the Prime Minister questions about what the Dutch prime minister was doing, he told everyone not to worry because we had a contract in Canada that would protect us from the rising costs, which would prove to be simply untrue.

When did the Prime Minister finally become aware of the fact that the information he had been giving the House of Commons was completely and utterly--

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The right hon. Prime Minister.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is the Government of the United States that has agreed to cover escalation in the development costs. The Government of Canada remains, which it has been for the past 15 years, part of the development process of the aircraft. We do have half a billion dollars of contracts in this country.

As I have said repeatedly, we will ensure that when we replace the aircraft at the end of this decade, and we have not yet signed a contract in that regard, we will ensure that our men and women in the air force have the best equipment.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government is not taking any responsibility. No one is responsible for the situation. What has happened is practically a miracle.

Any company that made this type of mistake, that misled its shareholders, misled the public, published a false prospectus and published false figures and documents involving billions of dollars—any company that did these things—would fire its CEO and replace its board of directors.

Why not do the same for the Government of Canada? Why not?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, the government has not spent any money to purchase these planes and has not yet signed a contract.

The Auditor General's report was very clear about responsibilities. The government is taking responsibility and re-examining the cost estimates, improving the process and ensuring that, in the future, when we replace the aircraft, our air force has the best equipment.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, before committing to the procurement of military equipment, the Minister of National Defence must ensure that the equipment in question meets our operational needs.

The Auditor General's report confirms that the F-35 jets do not meet all our operational needs. It is the responsibility of Public Works to purchase equipment within budget and in accordance with the procurement process. The Auditor General's report also shows that the Conservatives failed in that regard.

At least two ministers did not do their job. Whose fault is it?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Vaughan
Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino Associate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we accept the conclusions of the Auditor General and will implement his recommendations.

The Government of Canada is taking action to ensure that due diligence, oversight and transparency are permanently embedded in the process to replace Canada's aging fighter aircraft, which is why we have frozen funds for the acquisition and are establishing a separate F-35 secretariat outside of National Defence to lead this project moving forward.

To date, no funds have been expended in acquiring replacement aircraft.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the Conservatives truly want what is best for our troops, they will purchase a plane that works, and they will do so in time to replace the CF-18.

The best way to purchase the right jet for our troops, to get the best price for taxpayers and to obtain industrial spinoffs that are formally guaranteed is through an open and transparent call for tenders.

Instead of covering up the F-35 failure by passing the buck from one department to another, why not hold an open and transparent call for tenders right now?

National Defence
Oral Questions

April 4th, 2012 / 2:30 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 member opposite that the Auditor General said that the officials from the Department of National Defence did not provide cost estimates for the F-35 to parliamentarians. In his recommendations he said that the Department of National Defence should update those cost estimates and table them in Parliament. We agree.

However, we will also go further than that to ensure that taxpayer dollars are respected. We are establishing a new secretariat outside of the Department of National Defence which will run the process to replace the CF-18s. We have also frozen the funding allocated for that, and no purchase will be made until these conditions are met.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Defence can stop looking around. This is not a fishing lodge and there is no helicopter coming for him today.

This is the House of Commons and this is where ministers are supposed to stand up and take responsibility when things go off the rails. We knew the numbers were wrong. The PBO knew the numbers were wrong. The U.S. and other countries raised lots of red flags. However, the Minister of Defence carried on rigging this process. Will he stand up and take responsibility for this today?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, of course the member is wrong. The Auditor General has provided conclusions and has made recommendations and we have accepted those.

As was outlined already by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Public Works, we have put in place a process that is comprehensive and responds to those concerns. We will continue now, with the guidance of Public Works, to move forward with a proper acquisition process to replace the aging CF-18s.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, that process is all about deck chairs on the Titanic. It was that Minister of National Defence who originally lost control of this file. The PBO, industry experts, anybody who told the truth about the F-35, all of us were demonized by the minister. All the while, he was misleading Canadians and rigging this procurement process.

Ministerial accountability means that the minister is accountable. Will he finally take responsibility? Will he get up?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as was mentioned, with no contract in place, no money misspent and now funds frozen, we are injecting more accountability into this process.

We will move forward. Our intention is to see the CF-18 aircraft replaced with a proper aircraft. We will continue to make investments that support the men and women in uniform. I would advise the member opposite to do the same.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to see that the Minister of National Defence is out of the penalty box.

Mr. Speaker, the minister responsible for conflicts of interest, the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, was in charge of Public Works at the time. The Auditor General's report clearly establishes that he did not exercise due diligence in the procurement of military equipment.

How can the current Minister of Public Works monitor the integrity of the procurement process when her department has been blamed by the Auditor General?