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House of Commons Hansard #67 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was offenders.

Topics

Proportional RepresentationPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. As the motion has not been designated a votable item, the order is dropped from the order paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Proportional RepresentationAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, again I am back on the topic of Lancaster Aviation and a contract awarded to it by the Government of Canada. I have some concerns which I have put to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and the Minister of National Defence on many occasions in the House.

There are many unanswered questions on this file. For the benefit of the interested Canadians who are watching tonight, I am referring to the selling of surplus military equipment, spare parts, under a contract awarded to Lancaster Aviation. It won that contract under competition. It was a tendered contract. It went from selling spare parts to selling Challenger aircraft. In addition it sold 40 Huey helicopters.

How could it go from selling spare parts to selling helicopters and Challenger jets? We are not talking about nickel and dime items. We are talking about assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars. When we examine the sale of the Challenger aircraft, by all accounts they were sold for less than 50% of their value. How could that be allowed to happen?

It is the same situation with the helicopters. There have been allegations of kickbacks within the department in terms of how the contract was let and how Lancaster Aviation was allowed without tender to sell these aircraft. Where did the aircraft end up? To whom do they now belong?

We know that the Government of Canada at last count had about $100 million in surplus inventory that left the plant owned by Lancaster Aviation in Milton, Ontario, only to wind up in Florida. Those parts are now in a warehouse owned by a convicted felon who owns a company by the name of Airspares Incorporated.

I am not making this up as I go along. I can quote from a story in the Ottawa Citizen of May 4 of this year talking about Mr. McFliker, the man who owns Airspares. He is now awaiting sentencing on drug trafficking, international transportation of women for prostitution and money laundering.

What recourse do we have to that military equipment now sitting in a warehouse in Florida owned by a convicted felon? That is the bottom line. Why was that equipment allowed to leave Canada? Once the individual is sentenced, will we be able to get the equipment back?

Who is watching this man? Why would something like this be allowed to happen in Canada? Where is due process? How was a convicted felon allowed to get into a contractual agreement with a Canadian company, putting Canadian assets at risk? With that I rest my case.

Proportional RepresentationAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

Mississauga South Ontario

Liberal

Paul Szabo LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond. Lancaster Aviation won competitive contracts in 1997 and again in 2000 for the disposal of surplus aerospace assets, not simply spare parts as the member alleges. Allegations that the contract to dispose of the Twin Huey helicopters and Challenger aircraft were sole sourced are also false. They were competitively bid.

The 1997 RPF also contemplated special project sales such as planes. When such a need arises the process calls for an amendment to the contract to legally bind the parties. That is exactly what we did with the sale of the helicopters and the Challenger aircraft.

Through Lancaster Aviation the government sold eight Challenger aircraft to DDH Aviation of Fort Worth, Texas, for approximately $30 million. The sale was a result of a competitive tender issued by Lancaster Aviation. These aircraft did not have civil certification. Nor were they outfitted for executive use. As such they were in need of extensive modifications.

As for the assets being warehoused in Florida, I reiterate once again that Lancaster Aviation is using and renting that facility in Florida strictly for warehousing purposes. Lancaster Aviation is solely responsible for marketing the sale of assets. The assets are in Florida because that is where the market is and that is where the sales are taking place.

The DND assets are not in danger as the member alleges. The assets are the property of the Department of National Defence and are only in the custody of a contractor. Lancaster Aviation is responsible for the safekeeping of the assets and is liable for any losses. No parties other than the crown have any rights to those assets.

I think that shows the assets are not at risk. Even though there may be allegations against somebody out there, our assets are not in danger.

Proportional RepresentationAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, my issue is with the Minister of Human Resources Development. We were discussing the summer career placement program. This year the minister changed the rules of hiring under the program as it relates to municipalities.

Until this year all non-profit sector groups could take on students for the summer and it would not cost them anything. The private sector would pay 50% of the wages. Municipalities would pay the benefits, which would be a very small amount, but generally they received practically full funding to hire students.

This year for some reason the minister decided that municipalities would be lumped in the same category as the private sector. They in turn would pay half the wages of the students who would be hired during the summer by the municipality or any agency directly connected with the municipality.

When I asked the minister why she did it, she basically said that it made sense because she could spread the money a lot further. Instead of a municipality getting full funding for one student, it could hire two students because it was contributing half their wages.

That sounds very laudable. It would give more students the opportunity to receive employment for the summer. However the minister is forgetting that many municipalities throughout the country are in no position at all to pay the cost of hiring anybody.

The smaller municipalities in particular have been subjected to downloading from the federal government to the provincial governments and eventually to the municipal governments, to the degree that many of them cannot afford to pay for the basic services they provide right now and are in deficit positions.

Many small communities in rural Canada are trying to balance their budgets by cutting back on services such as picking up garbage and providing street lights. Consequently they have no extra funding to hire students or anybody else, as I mentioned, during the summer or at any time.

This means that many municipalities are taken off the hiring list entirely. It did not solve any problem. It created a big one. In many smaller communities the most responsible body, the best organized body, is the municipality. Supervision and organization of programs are usually done better by municipalities than some of the other agencies.

This year in smaller communities in particular, and even in larger ones, other non-profit groups have to pick up the slack and hire the students. Nobody wins. The municipalities lose. That is why we ask the minister to change her mind, to allow the municipalities to hire students and to pay the full funding to them to do that.

Proportional RepresentationAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Laval West Québec

Liberal

Raymonde Folco LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I take great pleasure in answering the question asked by the member for St. John's West.

The summer career placement program is a program that provides wage subsidies to employers in the private, public and not for profit sectors to create career related summer jobs for students.

Employers gain by hiring high school, college or university students from 6 weeks to 16 weeks. Students benefit by gaining career related summer work experience and by earning income to further their education and thereby prepare for future entry into the labour market.

The minister understands that some municipalities have raised concerns about changes to wage subsidy levels under this year's summer career placement program. The SCP program is very popular and each year the total demand exceeds the total amount of funds available.

Besides, in the riding of Laval West, which I represent in the House of Commons, this program will have helped over 300 students find gainful employment this summer.

Because the SCP program is so popular, the Government of Canada looked at new ways of allocating SCP funds to help even more students get summer jobs. That is why the public sector SCP wage subsidy was changed to match the private sector SCP subsidy, which is up to 50% of the provincial minimum wage.

To be fair to all applicants, we are treating public sector employers the same as private sector employers. The difference in wage subsidy to employers in the public sector could potentially result in up to 1,400 additional students gaining work experience through SCP this year.

Overall funding for the program will be at least the same as last year, that is $90 million, which is expected to help over 50,000 young Canadians acquire work experience through the program.

We encourage employers to hire summer students with or without subsidies. All summer programs help to ensure that students gain valuable, much needed workplace experience.

Proportional RepresentationAdjournment Proceedings

7:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24.

(The House adjourned at 7.12 p.m.)