Evidence of meeting #56 for National Defence in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was going.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jonathan Vance  Chief of the Defence Staff, Department of National Defence
John Forster  Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence
Charles Lamarre  Commander Military Personnel Command , Department of National Defence
Rear-Admiral  Retired) Patrick Finn (Assistant Deputy Minister, Materiel, Department of National Defence

June 20th, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

If they're no longer a trusted partner, why would we be buying Super Hornets from them?

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Right now, when it comes to Boeing, we disagree with the approach they've taken against Bombardier. Having said that, we're still continuing our discussions with the U.S. government, making sure that we fill this capability gap.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

The Prime Minister stated on numerous occasions during the last election that the government was going to use evidence-based decision-making. Now 13 former commanders of the air force have overwhelming said that the interim purchase is a bad idea. Defence experts, 88% of them, have said that the interim purchase is a bad idea. Is that enough evidence for you that it is an ill-advised decision to make the interim purchase and that you should just go immediately to the competition and replace our fighter jets?

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

I respect the service of the previous commanders. We are going to be launching a full competition to replace the entire fleet. Also, we have found that 65 aircraft would be unacceptable for that. But my military advice comes from the Chief of the Defence Staff, and I'd like to have him also weigh in on this.

4:10 p.m.

Gen Jonathan Vance

Thanks, Minister.

I can't speak to the opinions of those who are defence experts, but I'm one, too—

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

I understand that, but I'm talking about the air force.

4:10 p.m.

Gen Jonathan Vance

—and I have 100,000 of them. What I would tell you is that, as the minister has said, the option for the Super Hornet is still open. They're a bad partner now. Maybe they would become a good partner again.

I'd like to state on the record, though, to make it very plain to you and to the chair, the problem around the capability gap is a function of the fact that inherent in the defence policy is a commitment to our being able to conduct operations globally against the emerging threats that we face. It is inconceivable—

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

I appreciate that, General, but I only have so much time—

4:15 p.m.

Gen Jonathan Vance

Yes, I know, but you've asked the question—

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

I know.

4:15 p.m.

Gen Jonathan Vance

—and, Mr. Chair, I think I deserve to answer the question.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

I have one more question I want to ask the minister, and I'm going to run out of time if I don't. And I appreciate—

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

Perhaps one of our members can pick up the question—

4:15 p.m.

Gen Jonathan Vance

Okay.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Thank you.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

—but it is Mr. Bezan's time, and he can definitely use his time.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Minister, if you look at what other states, other countries, are doing in their recent procurements to replace their tactical fighters, none of them are taking five years to complete their competition. If you look right now, Denmark is doing theirs in two years, Belgium means to complete theirs right now in 18 months, and just earlier this week, Finland started their F-18 replacement program and plan to have their first deliveries in 2021 and the entire fleet replaced by 2025, which coincidentally is the same time that our life extension for our CF-18s runs out.

Why wouldn't the government want to go immediately to an open competition to replace all of our jets and buy the 88 that you've said in your defence policy that you need?

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

As I said, as soon as the defence policy was launched, we would be starting work on this. In fact, we have our officials at the Paris Air Show moving ahead with this as we speak.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

Thank you, Minister.

I'm going to turn the floor over to Mr. Garrison.

You have the floor.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the minister for being here today.

The New Democrats were happy to see that the defence review was set in the context of a foreign policy statement as well, but on both of these statements, I have a question about resources. We saw no increase in the foreign aid budget or diplomacy budget. While there were very large numbers kicked on the military, most of those numbers are far down the road and are for equipment purchases. When you talk about fixing defence in the review, I looked at the short term, and what we see is that the funding for the Canadian military, even under your proposed things, certainly does not keep pace with the rate of inflation from where military spending was in 2012. Even if we start with 2016-17, it will barely keep pace with inflation over the next four years, or up to and through the next election.

My question really is: since the Canadian military is being asked to do more things—we're talking on the mission in Latvia, we have a potential peacekeeping mission, and we've talked about several other training missions that Canada might be involved in—how can the Canadian military be expected to keep up this pace of operations when they have no new real dollars in their operational budget this year or next year?

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

I respectfully disagree. In fact, actually, there was an increase in the budget of 3%, of over $600 million.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

But 3% is the rate of inflation.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

If you look on page 43, and also at my previous statements, I've stated that even 3% was not enough. That's why we're investing significantly in addition to that, some $62.3 billion over the next 20 years. The investment is starting now. There's additional investment to come. On page 43, it outlines the increase in defence spending.

Deputy Minister, do you want to go over the details of that?

4:15 p.m.

John Forster Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence

Sure. There is $62 billion in new money over and above planned increases, which include the 3% the minister referred to. Even starting this year, there's $600 million coming on top of what was already planned in the defence budget. In the first five years, there's $6 billion in new cash.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

So where is that $600 million? Will it be in the supplementary estimates?