House of Commons Hansard #107 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was general.

Topics

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is true that the Auditor General was in committee today but he was also in scrum in front of the media this morning. In the scrum, he was very clear when he said that the government knew about the $25 billion estimate and that it was low-balling it. He meant the cabinet ministers.

The Conservatives used to say that they stood for ministerial responsibility but not one minister has stood up to say that this happened under his or her watch and that it was his or her responsibility. Will no minister ever stand up and take responsibility for this fiasco?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, that is what we are doing. We are accepting the Auditor General's conclusions. We are accepting the recommendation that he has made. In fact, we are going further than that recommendation and putting in place a comprehensive plan to respond to this concern.

The member can light his hair on fire or not but he can listen to the Auditor General's words and be accurate.

Our government is responding to this issue seriously. We are moving forward on an important acquisition for the Canadian Forces to provide it with a replacement aircraft for the CF-18. That is what we are doing.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, members opposite seem content to repeat “we accept the recommendations of the Auditor General”, but their words ring hollow.

The Department of National Defence received a scathing report from the former auditor general in 2010 on its helicopter purchase. The Auditor General was clear when she told the government to fix its procurement process. The minister said that all the recommendations from 2010 were “accepted and acted upon”. However, two years later, it is the same broken promise, the same broken talking points and the same report from a new AG.

Why should Canadians believe the Conservatives this time?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove
Alberta

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, what we should believe is what the Auditor General said this morning, which is that the government was moving in the right direction. That is a great endorsement for the plan that we have put in place moving forward.

There is still a lot of work to do, due diligence to undertake and transparency to be expected. That is what we expect from the Department of National Defence, that is what taxpayers expect and that is what parliamentarians should expect.

The Auditor General said very clearly that the Department of National Defence needs to table revised cost estimates. We will independently validate those before any purchase is made.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are indicating that they accept the Auditor General's recommendations, but that is not enough. They are refusing to take any action to prevent mistakes from being made. They are refusing to take responsibility for their failures.

The Auditor General's report on the border infrastructure fund was tabled in June 2011, and since that time, nothing has changed in the way the estimates are presented.

Will the Conservatives allow the Standing Committee on Public Accounts to summon the ministers responsible in order to determine what really happened in the F-35 fiasco?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:30 a.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 said this morning that the government was moving in the right direction and we will continue to do that.

He also made the point that in his audit he found that no money was misspent because no money has been spent yet on the acquisition of this aircraft. No money will be spent on the acquisition of this aircraft because it is frozen right now until the Department of National Defence meets the recommendation of the Auditor General, which is to table updated cost estimates very publicly and transparently in Parliament. We will ensure that the secretariat independently validates those costs.

Search and Rescue
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, the calls for an investigation into Canada's search and rescue system are growing.

On Tuesday, the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador called for a joint federal-provincial inquiry into the death of 14-year-old Burton Winters. However, it seems that the Minister of National Defence told the premier that there was no need for a joint inquiry. The family of Burton Winters and all Canadians deserve clear answers.

Will the government hold a full and independent inquiry into Canada's search and rescue system, or is all it has to offer are contradictions, empty excuses and spin?

Search and Rescue
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we remain very remorseful over the loss of young Burton Winters. Our condolences and our thoughts go out to the family and, in fact, the entire community of Makkovik.

What is unfortunate is that some members opposite are trying to use this for political purposes.

The Canadian Forces has already conducted an investigation. We have looked into the federal government's participation in this matter, and ground search and rescue, as we all know, is the responsibility of the provinces and territories.

Search and Rescue
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, it has now been 67 days since Burton Winters went missing and his family is still waiting for answers. After 67 days, rhetoric does not cut it.

From day one we have had nothing but contradiction and blame from the government. It is time for some facts. The Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador expects a full explanation by today for why our Cormorant helicopter was not sent to help in this search. Will she get that explanation?

If weather was not an issue and there were no protocols, why were the Cormorants not deployed?

Search and Rescue
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I will do just what the hon. member has asked. I will inject some facts and reality into this situation.

I spoke extensively about the matter with the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador yesterday, as I have previously. We had an investigation within days of this tragic incident. We have changed the protocol to improve the communication between the provinces and territories and search and rescue nationally. We continue to assess the proper placement of assets across the country. We have taken extensive action.

However, that, sadly, will not bring back young Burton Winters but we are committed to continuing to provide extensive search and rescue across this massive country. I salute those SAR techs who guard Canadians every day.

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is no end to the scandals involving the office of the minister of conflict of interest. This time, his spokesperson had a good time in Las Vegas on a government credit card. While families are tightening their belts and making sacrifices, the minister's staff is making the rounds of casinos with taxpayers' money. This is not acceptable.

Will the minister finally show some backbone, accept responsibility for all these scandals and resign, or does he believe that playing blackjack at Caesars Palace is an acceptable government expense?

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am not familiar with any minister by that title and I am sure you will deal with that appropriately.

This is a question that is actually about a former employee. All amounts that were in question have been recovered and taxpayers are not on the hook for a single dime. Our government will not tolerate any misuse of taxpayers dollars.

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we would like to hear from the minister on this.

When the boss takes a trip that could give rise to a conflict of interest and he justifies it by saying that he brought his own sleeping bag and lunch, it sends a message to his staff.

The member for Mégantic—L'Érable seems to have put violating every code of ethics on his to-do list. That is a big job, as de Gaulle put it, but the minister is getting there.

It is not surprising that his assistants think they can do whatever they want, such as censoring documents or even treating themselves to trips to Las Vegas on the taxpayer's dime.

Will the minister put an end to his woes and do the only honourable thing: resign?

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the government has acted appropriately. It is important to note that we are talking about a former employee.

The second point is that all moneys have been recovered. The taxpayers are not on the hook for a single dime. That is exactly how a government should act in the circumstances.

Ethics
Oral Questions

April 5th, 2012 / 11:35 a.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about a former minister. We are talking about a minister's former employee.

The minister of dubious ethics set such a low ethical bar that it seems to have had a trickle down effect on his employees. That is what happens when a minister calls every major scandal a learning experience but takes no responsibility.

Using a government credit card to play the slots in Las Vegas on the taxpayers dime is wrong. When will the minister finally take responsibility for his many ethical failures, including this one?