House of Commons Hansard #261 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was water.


Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to three petitions.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.


Bob Speller Liberal Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34, I have the honour to present to the House a report from the Canadian branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association concerning the 41st Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka from October 3 to 13, 1995. It is tabled in both official languages.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I wish to present a petition which has been circulating all across Canada. This particular petition has been signed by a number of Canadians from Edmonton, Alberta.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that managing the family home and caring for preschool children is an honourable profession which has not been recognized for its value to our society. They also state that the Income Tax Act discriminates against families that make the choice to provide care in the home to preschool children, the disabled, the chronically ill or the aged.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to pursue initiatives to eliminate tax discrimination against families that decide to provide care in the home to preschool children, the disabled, the chronically ill or the aged.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Some hon. members


Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Len Taylor NDP The Battlefords—Meadow Lake, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order, notice of which I gave the Chair this morning.

This point of order concerns the government's disregard of Standing Order 109, under which it is required within 150 days of the presentation of a report from a standing or special committee to table a comprehensive response.

On June 20, 1995 the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development presented its fifth report concerning its review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act in the House of Commons. According to Standing Order 109 the deadline for the government to table its response to this report was yesterday, Monday, November 20, 1995. As of today, Tuesday, November 21, 1995 the government has not tabled its response and has given no indication of when it might do so.

Mr. Speaker, on April 19, 1993 your predecessor ruled on two questions of privilege raised by the members for Scarborough-Rouge River and Winnipeg South Centre relating to the issue of the late tabling of documents. In his ruling the former Speaker had this to say:

I find the situation particularly disheartening-There are people in departments who are supposed to know these rules and are supposed to ensure that they are carried out.

In both of these cases the government failed to do so until after the matter was brought to the attention of this House-

As members are well aware, the tabling of documents constitutes a fundamental procedure of this House.

It is part of our rules and ensures that members have access to the information necessary to effectively deal with the issues before Parliament.

Your predecessor ruled that the Standing Committee on House Management should examine the issue of late tabling and the House agreed to such a motion moved by the member for Scarborough-Rouge River.

Consequently, the committee tabled its report on this matter on June 17, 1993.

The committee report stated:

The Speaker's ruling clearly sets out the issues involved.

There are provisions in the Standing Orders of the House as well as many statutes passed by the House that require documents to be tabled in the House within certain time periods.

Non-compliance with a deadline set out in a statute or the standing orders is a serious matter. It constitutes a breach of law, or a rule of the House.

The committee believes that the statutory and procedural time limits must be complied with.

I continue to quote from the committee's report:

If a document cannot be tabled within the prescribed time, the responsible minister should advise the House accordingly before the deadline; it is not acceptable that the deadline be ignored.

It may be that the time periods set out in the Standing Orders and certain statutes need to be reviewed and, where necessary, amended.

Until this is done, however, it is essential that the deadlines be respected.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask that, as the committee that studied this matter recommended, until these time limits can be reviewed, you rule that the government should immediately table its response to the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, as required by Standing Order 109.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I thank the hon. member for The Battlefords-Meadow Lake for putting his point so succinctly.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I just discovered the situation that the hon. member has described a few moments before the sitting opened. Had I been aware of it beforehand, certainly I would have made inquiries in order to provide him with more detailed information for the reason for the apparent lapse in the filing of this document on time.

I assure the hon. member I will take the matter up with the Minister of the Environment and make inquiries as to why there has been this apparent delay in the tabling of the report.

I thank the hon. member for drawing the point to the attention of the House. The comments that he makes with respect to the application of the rule and its importance to the workings of the House are extremely apt and timely. I do not disagree with his suggestion in that regard.

I will have to look into the facts surrounding the preparation of the government response to the report and get back to the hon. member and to the House at the earliest possible time. I hope to be in a position to do that shortly after question period today.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair will take the matter under advisement and thanks both members for their submissions. I will expect the hon. parliamentary secretary to report back to the House as indicated earlier today on this matter.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think you might find disposition on the part of the House to give unanimous consent to the following motion. I am sorry I was not ready to present it at the appropriate time in Routine Proceedings. I move:

That, notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 83(1), the Standing Committee on Finance may make an interim report on the matters referred to in the said standing order no later than December 12, 1995 and may deposit its final report thereon with the Clerk of the House on January 17, 1996.

I understand there have been various discussions among the parties in respect of the motion and agreements reached in the Standing Committee on Finance. It is the intention of all parties that those commitments be fulfilled in respect of the adoption of the order.

(Motion agreed to.)

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.


Jean-Marc Jacob Bloc Charlesbourg, QC


That the House condemn the government for having dropped the Canadian content requirements in the contracts for the purchase of military equipment and refusing to set up a genuine program for the conversion of the military industry, thus endangering the Canadian aerospace industry located in Montreal.

Mr. Speaker, my remarks in support of the motion I put forward will certainly go beyond this motion concerning the latest statements made by the defence minister and the Department of National Defence about the acquisition of certain pieces of equipment.

First of all, this motion condemns the government for having dropped the Canadian content requirements in the latest helicopter contract announcement, when this condition was clearly respected and even required in previous contracts.

I started by reviewing how this matter had evolved, a situation that has prompted us to table this motion. During the summer, the minister of defence announced the acquisition of British submarines, which were to cost $1.6 billion excluding maintenance, staff training, and renovations.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

An hon. member

We did not buy them.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.


David Collenette Liberal Don Valley East, ON

You are still dreaming.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.


Jean-Marc Jacob Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Just one moment. I see that the department is reacting rather quickly, and I will give you enough time to respond. Allow me to continue.

Given the population's strong, I would even say violent, opposition to the purchase of these submarines, they came back with a new formula. The cost of the submarines went down to $500 million with ill-defined exchanges of training time whose value was somewhat indeterminate.

The minister announced at the time that negotiations had not started and would be postponed. They waited until the middle of August, while it was still summer, before telling us that they had bought new armoured personnel carriers for our Canadian soldiers.

We see that the Canadian content is very high. The contract was awarded without tender to a London, Ontario company, a General Motors subsidiary, for the manufacture of armoured personnel carriers. I then said on behalf of the official opposition that buying new armoured personnel carriers was a waste of money when we already had over 1,700 of them in stock and when only about 215 or 218 were used for the most part during the mission in Bosnia.

The minister had indicated at the time, during special joint committee hearings, that a report had been prepared and that the Bloc Quebecois agreed with the procurement of these armed personnel carriers.

Unfortunately, I do not think that the minister bothered to read the Bloc's dissenting report, because this report, drafted by the Bloc Quebecois members of the Special Joint Committee on Canada's Defence Policy, clearly stated that, in our view, buying new APCs for better armour protection was only justified if Canada and its peacekeepers were to continue to take part in warlike actions and armed conflicts.

My understanding, based on what was discussed at committee and elsewhere, was that a review of Canada's peace effort was contemplated and that we would only participate in missions that did not involve the use of weapons, as was always the case in the past for our peacekeepers. It seems very clear to me that, if the nature of peace missions was to be changed to focus again on peacekeeping-the kind of missions the Canadian Armed Forces have always being involved in and carried out remarkably-there would be no point in having APCs with improved armour since our role would have changed. That was clearly stated in the Bloc's dissenting report. In this regard, the Bloc Quebecois always stood by its policy, remaining steadfast, regardless of what the minister and his department might say.

Coming back to the history of the tendering for APCs, a certain company was awarded without tender the $2 billion armoured vehicle acquisition contract.

From then on, nothing could be done. When the government makes a decision without taking into account the fact that we oppose the acquisition of armoured personnel carriers and awards the contract, since all members have the duty to look after the interests of the people they represent in their region or province, we ask that the government at least acknowledge the existence, in Quebec, of a company whose expertise in manufacturing armoured vehicle turrets is internationally recognized and that it even go a far as demanding that the contract and economic benefits be split.

Shortly before the referendum, as I recall, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs had sent a letter to Oerlikon stating that it would, of course, be considered for a later turret manufacturing contract with GM. Later, we learned that there were no dealings between GM and Oerlikon and that it was out of the question for GM to be forced to go with Oerlikon. The turrets can easily be ordered from the U.S. They had no qualms makings this kind of statement. This reminds me that all this love expressed before the referendum now appears to be dissipating like some sort of vapour blown away by the wind.

I would like to add, regarding this famous armoured vehicle renewal contract, that this is another instance where there seems to be something of a double standard. As far as the work to be carried out in Quebec is concerned, no problem, no requirements need to be set. On the other hand, for those vehicles to be overhauled in Chatham-because Chatham was affected by base closures-the minister said the part of the work on the 450 armoured vehicles must be carried out in Chatham to offset the losses caused by the closure of CFB Chatham.

Strangely enough, there is no infrastructure whatsoever in Chatham to support the repair and overhaul of these vehicles. This means that subsidies will have to be granted, as this was done-as several members probably remember-for the Canadian patrol

frigates, since Halifax did not have the basic infrastructure required to build the frigates. Between $350 million and $360 million was spent in subsidies to put the infrastructure in place so that the shipyard could secure the contract.

A competitor for MIL Davie, in Lauzon, which had the required infrastructure to execute the contract, appeared out of thin air. Something similar is happening now. When there is a closing in a place such as Chatham, some compensation must be made through economic spinoffs. Consequently, the government requires that the upgrading of the 450 armoured personnel carriers be done in Chatham.

As for the closure of the military college in Saint-Jean and the downsizing at the military base in that municipality, the government should use the same approach, avoid any double standard and say: "Yes, the Saint-Jean region was adversely affected. Consequently, since Oerlikon is located in the area, we should tell GM that a portion of the armoured personnel carriers contract ought to be awarded to Oerlikon". But no.

The minister tells us that he cannot get involved in the discussions going on between the companies. If this is the case, why is it that he can require that part of the upgrading be done in Chatham, where there is no existing infrastructure, but cannot do so when a similar situation occurs in Quebec?

I now move on to the helicopter issue, more specifically the recent announcement made by the defence minister concerning the acquisition of 15 search and rescue helicopters. During the review of Canada's defence policy, the Bloc did agree with the acquisition of search and rescue helicopters.

However, it did not agree with buying armoured personnel carriers and submarines and this is clearly stated in the dissenting report. It might be worth taking a look at that document, so that we are not accused of being inconsistent. The fact is that we did show consistency in our approach to this issue.

In the case of the helicopter contract, there is again some sort of a double standard. There is really no Canadian company that builds search and rescue helicopters similar to the Labrador. You have to go to Boeing with the Chinook, Sikorsky with the S-70, Eurocopter with the Cougar, and Agusta-Westland with the Cormoran, as well as another Russian company.

In Quebec, there is Bell Helicopter. This Quebec company, Canadian company builds helicopters that do not quite meet the requirements of the defence department for search and rescue helicopters. Therefore, the minister decided to call for tenders. Since no Canadian company builds these helicopters, a call for tenders can be made. No Canadian content requirement has to be met. Yet, in the case of these helicopters, we could, given the existing infrastructures, have part of the contract executed by a Canadian company, or at least demand that this be done, as in the case of Chatham, or in the case of GM, in London.

As mentioned by the special joint committee in its discussions on the procurement policy, the government is adamant about calling for tenders, to save money. However, if you use that approach, you have to do it all the time and in a consistent manner, regardless of which industry is involved, or whether that industry is located in Quebec or in Ontario. It is difficult to see any consistency in the approach used by the department, since it applies a given measure in one case and different one in another situation.

Let me give you another example. The defence minister tells us, by calling for tenders, that we do not trust our Quebec companies. Bell could bid to provide a portion of the helicopter's equipment, and Oerlikon could bid to build the turrets of the armoured personnel carriers, because we want some Canadian content and we want to award contracts to existing companies. But the minister tells us that we do not trust our companies.

It seems to me that he has a funny way of showing his lack of confidence in Ontario companies, since in the past five years the federal government has awarded more than $3 billion worth of contracts in Ontario without any bidding process.

I would like to see the same rule apply. If Canadian unity and the federal government are so profitable to the provinces, let them put their money where their mouth is. As far as I am concerned, the only thing they are giving is one more demonstration that, in the case of Quebec and, I might add, some other provinces as well-Parenthetically, let me add, in connection with the base closures in the west and the expansion of the base in Edmonton, when you evaluate all of the costs of closing and reconstruction, there are no savings; it will cost $60 million more.

There are some unkind souls who would say: "Tough luck for those living west of the Rockies, west of Edmonton, because they had the misfortune of voting Reform and that is when the bases got cut in their region". I am beginning to realize that this is a kind of repeat performance: if you do not vote for the Liberals, you pay for it afterward.

If that is how Canadian unity is created, I am even more anxious for Quebecers to finally wake up to the reality. I have the impression that perhaps our colleagues in the West might appreciate that too, at some point.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Raymond Lavigne Liberal Verdun—Saint-Paul, QC

Like in Northern Quebec?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Jean-Marc Jacob Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

The comments of my colleagues across the way are most amusing.

To continue, I would like to add that, during the defence policy review, we discussed procurement policy. A degree of agreement was reached that National Defence ought in future to purchase from companies already equipped with the necessary expertise and infrastructures, in order to make optimum use of the taxpayers' funds.

Here again, in the Bloc's dissenting report, reference was made to certain situations in which it had been found that there had been overruns, sometimes extremely substantial, and that the construction of certain plants had cost the taxpayers dearly. I referred earlier to the fact that Halifax got infrastructure subsidies in order to obtain the frigate contract. Under such circumstances, the costs are definitely greater.

Except where it would be more profitable to acquire systems already available within Quebec or Canada, I am convinced that this procurement policy is a good thing, nevertheless.

We must, however, avoid simplistic analyses of the situation. In some areas of activity, there are Canadian and Quebec firms which are totally competitive and competent and, contrary to some people's desire to see all defence spending curtailed or totally abolished, I feel that it is definitely necessary. The defence industry, whether in Quebec or in Canada, includes certain high tech jobs I feel are very important, if not vital, for certain regions, whether in Quebec or in elsewhere in Canada.

However, as I said right at the start, it is important to have a procurement policy but it must be applied consistently, whether in a given sector within Quebec or elsewhere in Canada, the Maritimes or Ontario for instance.

In the dissenting report, reference was made to the necessity of our immediately opposing abandonment of the regional redistribution policy, because it might serve the interests of Quebec businesses in coming months.

The systems whose manufacture is currently in the planning stages call upon technical expertise located outside Quebec, whereas the opposite situation has prevailed in the past.

For this reason, Quebec may well find it increasingly harder to secure its "fair share" in future. It is unthinkable that a policy that has been a barrier for Quebec in the past could be terminated now, at a time when it could be invaluable.

That is what we said in the dissenting report prepared by the Bloc Quebecois. When the minister says we agreed, we did have certain reservations. The minister says we agreed with the purchase of armoured personnel carriers, but we had certain reservations and as far as the submarines were concerned, we were definitely against that purchase.

I may add that at the Department of National Defence, at Defence headquarters, there is a policy for defence procurement. It is dated June 1995. This is not old stuff. This is an internal document circulating within the department.

Here is one item that states: "Contribute to long term regional and industrial development and to achieving relevant national objectives".

This is another one: "Priority shall be given to products and services that are respectively manufactured and provided in Canada and to certain other products and services if there is sufficient competition".

During the 1993 election campaign, the Liberals often referred to a defence conversion program, and in fact this was part of the Liberal Party's wonderful red book. They have now been here for two years, and I wish someone would show me an example of defence conversion. In any case, it certainly did not happen in Quebec. If it did anywhere else, it was a well-kept secret. Maybe in the maritimes because I vaguely remember that at some time, the Minister of Supply and Services tried to take a certain amount from the Department of National Defence for some industry.

Unfortunately, in every case the defence conversion program proposed by the Liberals-and unfortunately people often call this having a selective memory-when the Bloc Quebecois approved the cancellation of the EH-101 helicopters, that approval was conditional on the implementation of a thorough and practical defence conversion policy.

It has now been two years and nothing has transpired. Some of my colleagues will expand a little on the DIPP and the new development fund for defence conversion. Let us face it, this is a worldwide phenomenon. Since the end of the cold war, the defence industry has not been in the best of shapes. Just in Quebec, in the past five years, deliveries of defence products have declined by 48 per cent.

This means Quebec has lost nearly 30 per cent of the jobs connected with Canada's defence industry. Neither the policy nor the promises in the Liberal Party's red book with respect to defence conversion specify how this is supposed to work.

Several times the minister of defence told us that his budget had no money for defence conversion and that it was the responsibility of the Department of Industry. In the red book it was put very clearly, but we have seen no results. When we in the Bloc point out that certain expenditures seem to be a waste of money and the government goes ahead anyway, we have no choice but to ask the government to apply the same economic spinoff policies it applies to Ontario or the maritimes but not to Quebec.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Don Valley East Ontario


David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the 1994 White Paper on Defence, published last December provided a mission statement for the basic roles of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces in a post cold war context.

The Department of National Defence's mission is to protect Canada, to help keep the peace in the world and to promote Canada's interests abroad.

Policy focuses on keeping the armed forces versatile and combat ready, buying the broadest possible range of military options at a reasonable price in Canada. Maintaining the forces enables us to carry out our major defence roles, that is, of defending Canada and North America and contributing to world security.

The defence policy responds to pressing needs to reduce federal government expenditures in order to resolve Canada's serious financial problems. Defence programs, arising from the 1995 federal budget, are totally in keeping with the policy set out in the white paper. Military expenditures will be brought below $10 billion over this year and the coming two years. Even though the $1.63 billion reduction over this period represents a 14 per cent reduction in absolute terms, the department will in fact lose more than 18 per cent of its purchasing power. I see this as a victory.

Our budget has been cut. We will nevertheless take a number of measures to increase the forces' operational capacity. For Canadian forces to be able to retain their combat potential, they will be provided with indispensable equipment, such as the armoured personnel carriers the government has just announced. I noted that the hon. member spoke a lot about armoured vehicles and I will come back to this a little later on in my speech.

The acquisitions program will focus on extending equipment life whenever it is cost effective to do so. Only equipment vital to maintaining Canadian forces capability will be acquired and procurement will be off the shelf whenever possible.

Let us talk about this whole question of off the shelf procurement and why it makes sense. I would like to dispel a number of myths that have developed about off the shelf buying which have appeared recently in the press, certainly in the press in the province of Quebec.

It is a great oversimplification to think of off the shelf buying as getting something that is all packaged and ready to pluck from a local hardware store. The department of defence has been developing and putting into practice a much broader concept of an off the shelf acquisition process, one that incorporates elements of a much simplified, less prescriptive acquisition approach. This process can be viewed as buying better and buying smarter in a more businesslike fashion in acquiring goods and services. It maximizes the use of existing industry products, practices and technologies.

The underlying rationale for this approach is an attempt to reduce costs in buying and supporting equipment. Clearly off the shelf acquisition is good for taxpayers since it does reduce costs and puts our limited money where it is needed most. It is good for soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen because it quickly gets the needed equipment to them and ensures we have combat capable forces.

My colleague the parliamentary secretary will talk a little about the former practices of developing ideas, concepts, specifications, the contracting process, Treasury Board approval and how long it takes. He will talk about that from the perspective of being a former naval officer, about what it means to the men and women in the forces in relation to the delay in getting equipment.

Off the shelf procurement is good for industry. Canadian industry, especially in the aerospace sector, is now quite mature, has good capability and can compete with the best in the world.

I am surprised by the attitude of my colleague opposite, by his lack of confidence in the Canadian aerospace industry, which is located in the province of Quebec. He has no confidence in his own industries, in his own province. This is further evidence of the repressive mentality of the separatists and the sovereignists, which views Quebec as poor and fragile. I for one do not accept this argument.

In the recent past there has been an increasing emphasis within defence on off the shelf acquisitions. Basically we are trying to do a number of things. Wherever possible we try to purchase equipment where the performance has been demonstrated in the field. We try to evaluate carefully the cost of marginal increases and the capability of new equipment. We try to avoid unique Canadian solutions that require expensive and risky research development or modification of existing equipment. It sounds to me like that is not a bad idea.

In other words, we in defence and in the government at large are becoming smarter buyers. We are maximizing the purchase of what is already available to meet defence requirements. We think this is essential for the Canadian forces, because it provides our troops with the necessary equipment in a timely and cost effective manner. We have been very consistent in moving toward a greater alliance on off the shelf procurement.

In its 1994 report, the Special Joint Committee on Canada's Defence Policy-I see that the hon. member was on this committee-recommended that the procedure for buying military equipment be simplified. The committee called for a commitment to buy off the shelf military equipment and to avoid complex procedures for buying custom made products. The report also said that DND's acquisition policy should emphasize off the shelf products.

Favouring off the shelf equipment does not mean that DND will not consider the need for regional industrial benefits in Canada, but there will be times when it is totally appropriate from an economic point of view to buy commercially available products. DND will certainly not want to needlessly increase procurement costs and pay for extra work in order to provide regional benefits.

It is very interesting to note that, in his contradictory comments on the report of the Special Joint Committee on Canada's Defence Policy, the hon. member from the Bloc stated that procurement cost overruns are due in large part to the Canadian content restrictions, for which taxpayers had to pay more because the existing industrial base could not meet the needs.

What you have here is a glaring contradiction. What the hon. member said today contradicts his Bloc colleagues' minority response to the report of the Special Joint Committee on Canada's Defence Policy, as well as all the sovereignist arguments we have heard in recent months. They are always contradicting themselves.

I want to deal with one of the real canards-we use that in English, but we do not use it in French in quite the same way-the hon. member has thrown on the floor of the House of Commons: this notion that the province of Quebec is once again subjected to terrible things by the federal government, in this case in the area of defence.

Quebec has about 25 per cent of the population of Canada. About 20 per cent of total defence expenditures are spent in the province of Quebec, not quite the 25 per cent. However, when it comes to capital purchases it is about 27 per cent. That is because much of the defence industry in this country is located in the province of Quebec.

The hon. member, as I said earlier, does not seem to have confidence that the industry in his own province can compete in the case of the search and rescue helicopters and in the case of the armoured personnel carriers. He gives the impression that the armoured personnel carriers are going to be totally and absolutely built, every bolt, every part, in London, Ontario. That is crazy. He knows that is not the truth.

The GM diesel division in London, Ontario assembles-and it does a very good job-the armoured personnel carriers, but most of the parts, the motors and other equipment come from other places. Guess what? Some of those places just happen to be in the province of Quebec, but he would not admit that because he does not have faith.

This is one contradiction we see in the separatist argument, whether it is on national unity or on something like defence. They do not have confidence in themselves. They do not have confidence in what Quebec has attained within Canada. The aerospace industry is primarily situated in the province of Quebec, and it does a pretty good job. We recognize that. However, it would be nice if somebody like the hon. member and his party, the Bloc Quebecois, would recognize and have confidence in their own industry.

Let us talk about how Quebec has really been put under the thumb in recent years. One of the few things the previous government did that I could support was direct a contract to Bell Helicopter in Montreal. The hon. member stood a few minutes ago and lambasted us for directing the contract to General Motors diesel division. The Tories did that, and guess who the beneficiary was? It was Bell Helicopter. The condition was that they would build a brand new plant in Mirabel. I have been through the plant and I have been on the new Griffon helicopters, and they are outstanding. That is technology that is in Quebec. The hon. member does not recognize that. It was a $1.2 billion contract.

A $1.2 billion contract was awarded to a Quebec company, Bell Helicopter.

Why? Because Bell Helicopter agreed to establish this plant as the prime builder for certain lines of helicopters. It gave the world product mandate to Bell Helicopter in Montreal.

General Motors of the United States has done the same thing in Ontario on armoured personnel carriers and with diesel locomotives. The diesel division of General Motors has a world product mandate.

The hon. member could be mired in the isolationist, regional politics of Quebec and of the past grievances, but I think even the sovereignists in Quebec have to appreciate that the world has changed, that we are competing globally, competing in a North American free trade environment.

After making very painful adjustments, which hurt Quebec and hurt Ontario in many of the manufacturing industries, Canada is now starting to see some light. It is companies like General Motors and Bell Helicopter and a raft of others that are getting the world

product mandate for particular equipment, systems, and technologies that will be the future of Canada and the future of Quebec.

The hon. member has consistently attacked the government defence policies with respect to closures.

It is not true to say that the closure of the Collège militaire royal is the only closure in the country under the budget of two years ago, it is not true.

It is very difficult as a Liberal minister to close bases in Cornwallis and Shelburne, Nova Scotia and elsewhere in the province, in Ottawa and Toronto and in Chatham, New Brunswick. It is very difficult to close these bases. We closed 30 bases across the country, but the word is the government closed only the Collège militaire royal in Quebec. It is not true. This is another example of selection of incorrect information.

In the last budget, we announced the closure of the base in Chilliwack, British Columbia. One of the measures is to move a school-where, you ask-to the Saint-Jean base in Quebec. Oh no. The poor people of Quebec do not get their share of military installations. Not true. We moved the cadet and recruit school from Cornwallis to the Saint-Jean military base, to the big complex, the big building. We moved this school, and, in the last budget, we announced the move of the Chilliwack school to Saint-Jean.

He talks about the expansion of the base in Edmonton, Alberta as a major base. I know you are very interested in this base because you are a member for Edmonton. This is logical.

The hon. member neglected to tell the House that we expanded the Valcartier base, in his own riding. It is a big, big undertaking. He is well aware that a lot of buildings went up and that there was a lot of construction in his riding, but he forgets to mention it. It is a political issue, because Quebec is always the victim in the Canadian yoke. Not true.

What we see here are inaccuracies, half truths, a selection of facts that do not add up with what we have done.

They want to talk about French speaking Canadians in the armed forces. About 30 per cent of the army are francophones. About 27 per cent of our officer level are francophones. We have had no trouble recruiting for the Royal Military College in Kingston.

The debate we had was interesting. My good friend, the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands, has successfully worked with local officials in Kingston to expand the college.

I am proud as a Canadian to visit the Royal Military College in Kingston and to see that it is bilingual. It is an institution that is not in the province of Quebec, but it is entirely bilingual. Every day, both English and French are spoken there. The atmosphere is very Canadian, bilingual, and I think it came about as the result of a decision to concentrate everything in Kingston.

However, I am told the hon. member for Charlesbourg visited the college with a colleague and was disappointed. He was really disappointed, because he could find nothing to criticize. He spoke with young soldiers and cadets, and everyone told him things were fine there.

We are well aware that it is not exactly the province of Quebec. We know that Kingston is primarily an English city, but it has a very warm welcome for francophones. The mayor and the people of Kingston, the people at Queen's University and all of the institutions made a real effort to welcome francophones to Kingston.

He was really disappointed. I am told he saw no problems. He was exasperated, because he would criticize the closure of the Collège militaire royal in Saint-Jean daily in the House, and when he visited the college in Kingston, he realized that his criticism was unfounded.

We have here yet another example of the separatists coming to the House and provoking people's emotions. Every night on the news in Quebec we saw stories of how this was terrible, that this particular decision, which was taken for logical financial reasons, was somehow anti-francophone, anti-Quebec. That is not the case.

I encourage any member to go to the Royal Military College in Kingston and speak to francophones from Quebec. They will tell you the atmosphere is welcoming and is conducive to study and conducive to building a great nation with two official languages. That is the by-product of a very tough decision. You do not get that when you listen to the speeches of the hon. member. Somehow the closing of the Collège militaire royal was the only thing that happened in the defence budget that year. The fact is we announced close to $7 billion worth of actual and projected cuts including the cancellation of the EH-101.

I want to talk for a few minutes about the acquisition program. We are well on target. We have announced the armoured personnel carriers. We have announced the search and rescue. We have not addressed the other two major procurements in the white paper, but those will be addressed one way or the other.

The hon. member talks about submarines. How many times does a person have to repeat that the government has not made a decision on whether or not to buy the submarines? If we decide not

to, then we will announce it. Then the hon. member will be happy but I am sure he will find something else to criticize. He is using this as something with which to whip the government and it is not based on fact.

I say with great respect that this motion certainly does not reflect the actual situation in the country with respect to procurement, with respect to Canadian content and with respect to defence policy.

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11 a.m.


Jean-Marc Jacob Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, no questions but a few comments.

When the minister says there are contradictions in what we say, I am sorry, but I think that the problem here is with understanding and interpreting what was said. When I said earlier that there were extra costs for Canadian and Quebec taxpayers, this was when there were no infrastructures, as in the case of the Halifax shipyard for the frigates contract. When the infrastructures are there, I made it clear that it is possible, and I said that as well, to save money by going on the market.

When the minister accuses us of bad faith or putting a spin on certain things, I think he is very good at that himself, because when I made the comparison with Chatham, where the military base was closed-in fact I read what the Premier of New Brunswick had to say about that-the minister compensated by ordering repair work to be done in Chatham. Because the base was closed, the order was given, in this case. In other cases, it was not.

I also mentioned several times that the Liberal Party's red book referred to defence conversion, but neither the minister nor anyone else ever brought this up. When we talk about procurement and we say that Quebec is not getting its fair share, I do not see why, if the infrastructures are there, we should not get the same treatment as everybody else.

Finally, yes, I did visit the Royal Military College in Kingston but the experience did not exasperate me, not at all. This is another wrongful interpretation by the minister. I thought it was a very beautiful location, except there may have been a conscious effort to sugar coat this bitter pill, but it is a nice place, and I did not come back exasperated, not at all.

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11 a.m.


David Collenette Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I forgot to say in my speech that in the point that raised by the hon. member, the reference was to Chatham, New Brunswick.

We made the announcement that there would be some work done in Chatham, because closing that base was more difficult than anywhere else in Canada, but he again forgot to say, and it is only normal that he should forget, that in our announcement we also said that most of the armoured personnel carriers would be repaired, restored and overhauled in the National Defence workshops in East Montreal.

In other words, he talks about the small benefit of 270 person years and about $50 million that is going to Chatham, New Brunswick. However he does not talk about the $400 million and all the jobs that are going to be preserved in the east end of Montreal. The people in the east end of Montreal knew what defence did. When the votes came in on referendum night we saw that the no vote was strong in the east end of Montreal, contrary to the predictions made by the hon. member's party.

We have a good story to tell. I only hope that in the future the hon. member will admit to some of the great things we are doing in Quebec, such as continuing the very competent workshop in the east end of Montreal and the preservation of all those jobs.

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11:05 a.m.


Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege to stand today on behalf of the people of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt and all Canadians in opposition to the Bloc motion.

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11:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the hon. member rising on a question or comment? We are still at the question or comment stage.

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11:05 a.m.


Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

I am rising on debate.

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11:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Are there further questions or comments? Resuming debate, the hon. member for Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt.

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11:05 a.m.


Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, I find it strange that the hon. member for Charlesbourg just a few short weeks ago was soliciting members of the Canadian Armed Forces to join a new Quebec armed forces and today he is actually trying to appear to be concerned about the Canadian Armed Forces. It is quite frightening to see this type of motion. I urge the hon. member to seriously read section 62 of the Criminal Code and reflect on his actions of a few short weeks ago.

I also take this opportunity to voice the outrage of Canadians over the mismanagement of the defence portfolio by the Liberal minister. Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition has its own provincial angle on this issue, one which is largely out of touch with that of the majority of Canadians, despite the Bloc's sacred title. The Reform Party, the de facto opposition party in the House, opposes the motion put forward today by the Bloc Quebecois because grassroots Canadians want value for their tax dollars.

Canadians have told us that Canada desperately needs to replace its aging military equipment with new equipment which can meet a certain set of performance criteria. We need to buy this equipment off the shelf so that we can purchase the best equipment with our taxpayers' dollars. I support and I am determined to fight for the

removal of all measures which are designed to insulate industries from competition.

Canada is over $550 billion in debt. Much of our equipment is older than the military personnel using it. We can no longer play the regional development game when our armed forces need new equipment within the current environment of fiscal restraint.

This does not preclude Canadian companies in the Canadian province of Quebec from bidding on military procurement. I am confident that Quebec's military and aerospace industry, like the military and aerospace industry in other provinces, is up to the task of competition with other national and international firms. An off the shelf policy is certainly less threatening to Quebec industry than the Bloc's attempts to separate from Canada. That would do more harm to the military and aerospace industry in Quebec than any government policy to seek the best price for military hardware.

The motion is almost amusing in light of last month's referendum.

Can Canadian industry compete with the best in the world? I must answer with a resounding yes. There are dozens of military products and industries which are world class and have succeeded or can succeed in the international marketplace.

The Bloc Quebecois wants to reprimand the government for having dropped the Canadian content requirements in contracts for the purchase of military equipment. That is ridiculous. Canadians know that buying military hardware off the shelf is the only practical way for military procurement in Canada.

Procurement is central to the operations of any military service. In the modern era when weapons systems are so complex and design and delivery stages can extend over a decade, successive Canadian governments have too often overspecified Canadian forces requirements. Successive Canadian governments have also used the military as a tool for industrial benefits and for the pursuit of regional economic development. The result has been costly to Canadian taxpayers and the armed forces.

These factors are responsible for the gigantic bureaucracy for the management and control of military procurement. The costliness of an all Canadian design that has not faced international competition has resulted in our armed forces using outdated equipment. Too many resources were being spent on one megaproject while the modernization and upkeep of existing equipment was put on the back burner.

In other words, whenever possible the armed forces must purchase the most cost effective and capable military platforms, such as helicopters, armoured personnel carriers or submarines. If no Canadian defence industry can produce the entire platform at a competitive price, then so be it. There will still be room for Canadian industry in the development and manufacture of subsystems and in the long term, maintenance of the platform.

In addition to acquiring military platforms for the armed forces in a timely manner, the savings to taxpayers would be enormous. The whole procurement process would be simplified. The role of government agencies would be eliminated and significant costs associated with seeking regional benefits would disappear. The end result would be a better equipped armed forces for the money.

In some instances, Canadian industry will be able to compete and acquire a licence to manufacture an existing platform in Canada. I am sure Canadian industries will be highly successful in competing globally for manufacturing rights to existing products. When this occurs, the armed forces and the taxpayers are again the winners. The procurement process will be streamlined. Jobs will be created. Spending will remain in Canada and other Canadian firms will get the opportunity to compete for subcontracts.

My fear is that the Bloc Quebecois motion is actually redundant. I am not confident this government is going to follow through and implement a true off the shelf policy. Let us look at the government's procurement track record so far.

In 1994 the Minister of National Defence tabled his white paper on defence, the first comprehensive look at Canada's defence policy since 1987. In it the minister pays some lip service to the off the shelf concept. The white paper states under the heading of procurement: "The Department of National Defence will adopt better business practices. Greater reliances will, for example, be placed on just in time delivery of common usage items to reduce inventory costs. The department will increase the procurement of off the shelf commercial technology which meets essential military specifications and standards".

While this is hardly a ringing endorsement of an off the shelf, taxpayer friendly way to military procurement, it is a start. Maybe this government's actions are stronger than its words. Let us look at some of the specific purchases by the Minister of National Defence since 1993 and see if he shows some concern for Canadian taxpayers and Canadian military personnel and determine if he has grasped the off the shelf concept.

One of the latest procurement contracts I am aware of is the minister's $2,000 gold plated pen contract with an Ottawa firm. If the minister had a concern for his troops and Canadian taxpayers, he would have shopped around for a bargain. He would have gone to Grand and Toy and Office Depot, to name two major pen suppliers, which have commercially available pens that could be purchased off the shelf. But no, the minister had a number of specifications. They had to be quill pens with gold engraved

lettering and supplied in a crushed velvet pouch. So much for the minister and his lip service to off the shelf.

Wait. Maybe that purchase was just a fluke. Maybe the minister's track record improves when we examine something that is not for his personal use. Let us examine the government's track record vis-à-vis one of the major equipment purchases this government faces. Let us look at this government's handling of the replacement of search and rescue shipborne helicopters.

This sorry tale begins in the dying days of the previous Tory government. Prior to the 1993 election the Conservative government had set in motion the purchase of the EH-101 replacement helicopter. By the fall of 1993 hundreds of millions of dollars had been spent on research and development.

The hefty cost of the EH-101 which totalled $4.4 billion including training personnel, spare parts, training manuals and training programs prompted the Liberal Party to make a campaign promise to scrap the purchase. This campaign ploy is proving to be costly to taxpayers and a minefield for the Minister of National Defence who has to replace our current deficient fleet while showing the taxpayers that the Liberal government has saved them money.

The fallout from this campaign promise has been great. Our military personnel were told they would have to spend more time flying obsolete and increasingly dangerous helicopters. Our ability to enhance our defences and to get the most out of our new frigates has been deferred. Taxpayers have been forced to waste up to some $600 million on cancellation fees, but all the costs are not in yet. Some experts are saying that the total could cost Canadian taxpayers up to $1 billion at the end of the day.

Sadly the Liberal cabinet is playing politics again. The defence minister has publicly committed himself to purchasing new helicopters and finally announced last week that he would purchase 15 new search and rescue helicopters. He boldly proclaimed that they would be purchased off the shelf for just $600 million. Six hundred million dollars to $1 billion is the amount the Liberal government has forced Canadian taxpayers to spend on helicopters since the election of 1993. But where are the helicopters? The $600 million figure like our aging Labradors and Sea King helicopters does not fly.

To purchase the 15 helicopters Canadian taxpayers are really being asked to spend $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion when the EH-101 cancellation costs are factored in. That equals about $80 million to $100 million each. That is probably more than the average cost of each EH-101 helicopter.

The only reason the minister is forced to commit himself to an off the shelf purchase of helicopters is the political game of football the government has been playing with helicopters. The EH-101 cost included spare parts, pilot training, manuals and other incidentals. The defence minister left these costs out of his assessment, making his new search and rescue variant more costly to taxpayers.

There is more too. The minister has lowered the operational specifications for the helicopter by 15 per cent. The EH-101 was not an overspecified helicopter. The EH-101 had a set of specifications to meet Canada's expansive geography and our severe weather conditions. Specifications include a range of 550 miles; a speed of 160 knots; a hover capability for a 7,500-foot altitude; a capacity to rescue and carry nine people; a day, all night and all weather capability including severe icing conditions; and the capability of making a safe recovery following the loss of one engine.

The Liberals had wasted so much money calculating the EH-101 deal they could not afford to purchase an off the shelf helicopter that could meet Canada's unique needs.

The announcement that the operational requirements for our search and rescue helicopters is being reduced calls into question the Liberal government's commitment to Canada's search and rescue. What are we telling our fishers and their crew off the west coast of Vancouver Island in an emergency situation? The government is sending them a strong message, scribbled with a pricey quill pen that says: "We may not be able to assist you. The weather is too bad and you are out of range. Good luck".

As for the shipborne helicopters, the cabinet and the defence minister are still wrangling over the difficulty in deciding how to tell the public that they need to spend billions of dollars on a project they cancelled as a campaign promise.

I expect to see the same result with the shipborne helicopters as with the search and rescue variety. Canadians will get at best an inferior helicopter in less numbers for the same price as the EH-101.

Who are the losers? First Canadian taxpayers and second our military personnel. The Minister of National Defence has an approved defence budget and an approved white paper which apparently account for the purchase of new shipborne helicopters. Yet the minister is unable to get cabinet approval to make this important decision. Why? Media reports speculate on the worst. They believe cabinet is fighting over the division of regional benefits.

In August the Financial Post claimed a Parliament Hill lobbyist had said that the Minister of Human Resources Development and

the Minister of Transport were pressing the Minister of National Defence for investment in their regions.

When looking at other major procurement items on the government's agenda it becomes apparent the minister was forced into an off the shelf promise on helicopters because of the fiscal mess the government has put itself in over the EH-101 cancellation.

The recent press conference the minister held to announce his plans for search and rescue helicopters was a non-event, to say the least. The minister only announced his intent to accept bids, something most of us thought had occurred long ago. Normally the minister would announce the items to be procured, the cost to the taxpayers and the industry involved.

This is exactly what happened in August when the minister announced his intent to purchase 240 new armoured personnel carriers in addition to a program for refurbishing about 1,200 of our existing M-113s, Grizzlies and Bisons. In this example the minister threw the concept of off the shelf to the wind. It was lucky for him that he had no APC cancellation contracts to contend with. In this case the minister knew exactly which companies would be awarded the contract. General Motors of London, Ontario was awarded the contract to produce 240 new APCs for $800 million, with the government keeping the door open to ordering another 411 at a future date for a cost of just over $2 billion.

To determine whether this contract was value for money, I submitted an access to information request in August asking for documents showing the minister and his senior officials at DND shopped around and bought the best APC for the money. The information act states that the department must respond to requests within 30 days of receiving them. It is now the end of November. I have heard nothing from the Department of National Defence and I expect the worst. I imagine the department is stonewalling because it knows this is not an off the shelf purchase.

I bet those documents are sitting on the bottom of the in basket of the deputy minister of defence as we speak. I also bet the next set of defence estimates this spring will have a column under the APC project entitled regional benefits.

While the verdict on the new APCs is not in yet, it is clear the APC refurbishing contract awarded to Montreal's 202 workshop is an exercise in regional pork barrelling. This was the price of cabinet approval for the purchase and represents old style politics at its worst.

The latest major purchase the minister has made known is the option to purchase surplus British Upholder class submarines to replace our aged Oberon class subs. The asking price of $800 million dollars for four Upholders, training vessels, spare parts and documentation is a bargain. I suspect cabinet will not allow the minister to announce this purchase because there is no pie to be divided among the regions.

To conclude, the motion put forward by the Bloc Quebecois is the exact opposite to what Canada must do to get its fiscal house in order. This is not surprising. What is surprising is that the government has not embraced the off the shelf concept as a means by which Canada can upgrade its aging and increasingly dangerous military equipment.

If Canada is to maintain its modest military and continue to play an effective role in our nation's defences and international affairs, it must change and it must change quickly. As the Reform Party defence critic I will be watching every aspect of DND's purchases, from pens to submarines. I will ensure that taxpayers and our dedicated military personnel are getting the most for their money.