This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #147 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provinces.

Topics

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact, if someone wanted to convince me to vote in favour of the bill by saying it is an insurance policy, they would achieve the opposite effect. I do not believe in it.

Indeed, this is the first time that a government has done something like this concerning equalization. The insurance policy is for one man only. It is an insurance policy for a government and a man that do not want to be here to face questions. It is certainly not an insurance policy for the provinces.

However, the best insurance policy for everyone is balance. The best justice for everyone is that we continue to sit in the House, that the new prime minister, whom we will know shortly, finds a way to sit in the House, that the government does its job, since it was elected for five years and is only in its third year. We have to do our job. This is the insurance policy that we will be able to provide everyone.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to what my colleague is saying, this government is very good at alienating a lot of people and a lot of provincial representatives, economically and otherwise. With the three bills it introduced, Bill C-6, Bill C-7 and Bill C-19, the government is above all alienating the first nations.

Some fifty members from these communities are gathered here to express their opposition to these bills, which do not respect the inherent right to self-government, which do not respect ancestral treaties, and which do not respect them as full-fledged members of nations so recognized by the United Nations.

I have a question for my colleague regarding equalization. Does he not believe that it would be a good idea to settle the fiscal imbalance issue, a move which would really give provincial governments and the Quebec government the resources they need to assume their own responsibilities? If this was done, we could slowly proceed to do away with this equalization program, which has been nothing but trouble since its inception because it is too complex to administer and too complex to improve.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The member for Champlain has two minutes left to answer the question.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. He is one of only a few who are familiar with this program. As Mr. Séguin, the Quebec finance minister has said, very few are. The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. is one of them.

The only place people do not believe there is fiscal imbalance is here in the federal government. All of the provinces agree that there is one. One need only look at the money wasted here at the federal level while the provinces, which have the responsibilities, lack the resources. The money is here, yet they are inventing all manner of systems when all that is needed is one fair one, which would redress the fiscal imbalance so the equalization payment program would no longer be needed.

Here things are more complicated. The harder it is to administer, the more it costs, yet there is still money left for the friends of the government in power. All of the provinces admit the existence of a fiscal imbalance, but it needs to be admitted here, and then it can be fixed.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bloc Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to also have this opportunity to take part in such an important debate, one I would also qualify as surprising. No one would have believed that a government would dare for the first time to go against the traditions, habits and principles that have always been part of the House of Commons and the parties that have been in power here, that is respect for commitments to the provinces on the renewal, every five years, of the equalization contracts.

Today, they have told us they are going to tack on a year, that it can be discussed later. But they are thereby blatantly neglecting the needs of the provinces, particularly in the areas of health, social services and education.

With this new invisible leader, as my colleague for Champlain has just described him, behind the curtain pulling the strings, we find ourselves with a two-headed government.

First, he comes here and proposes things, then the next day, someone else says, no we will not do that. This will drag on until February. We have an irresponsible government, one that does not take its responsibilities, puts off its problems, does not listen to the provinces, the opposition, or various stakeholders in Quebec or in Canada, and does what it wants for one reason: to advance the personal agenda of the new leader, who will see to helping out his friends who contributed $11 million to his leadership campaign and to returning the favour to friends of the party. The good old Liberal tradition will be reincarnated in a new leader. Leaders will come and go, but the party will always be corrupt.

The equalization that we are talking about is so complex. As my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot said, it could disappear one day if we took the time to sit down and properly discuss the provinces' needs and the distribution of wealth in Canada. It would be very easy.

Currently, the average fiscal capacity is based on five provinces: Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Provinces with a fiscal capacity below the average receive the difference from Ottawa, not the rich provinces, but Ottawa itself. What is more, equalization legislation is reviewed every five years.

Look at what the Séguin commission report said, for instance. This commission was formed by the Parti Quebecois government and was chaired by Mr. Séguin, who is currently the minister of finance in the new Liberal government in Quebec. He has not changed his mind in the meantime.

He talked about restoring fiscal balance. Look at what Mr. Séguin said and then look at what the provinces said during the finance ministers meeting. They said that the financial means of the provinces had to be increased by at least $8 billion annually. That is what the Séguin report said.

In Quebec, he said that $2 billion in the medium term, and $3 billion in the long term, was needed to restore fiscal balance. The CHST needed to be abolished and the GST or personal income tax transferred.

This new sharing of the tax base must be gradual. What the Séguin report suggested was quite orderly. Also, it wanted to improve the equalization system by taking into account the fiscal capacity of all ten provinces instead of only five; this would, among other things, require elimination of the existing ceiling and threshold provisions. Why should there be a limit? “You can be poor up to a point; you can be rich up to a point”, that is what the formula is saying at the present time. The report said that Ottawa should not unilaterally change the equalization formula.

However, this bill is just that: a first unilateral step. It says, “We are setting the date at which we will negotiate and, for the time being, it will be delayed by at least one year”. That is quite unilateral. How will the federal government behave when it sits down at the table? The same way, as the Séguin report feared.

The Séguin report also said that there should be checks and balances on the federal spending power. Fiscal rebalancing would limit the spending power of the federal government.

This government's capacity to spend is limitless. While retaining the same tax rates, it has cut transfer payments.

If it had been honest, it would have said, “I do not want to be involved in health and education any more. As a result, I will not keep the tax points I was using. The provinces can have them to offer those services”. Instead, the government kept the money and left it to the provinces to provide those services. It is now bragging about its balanced budget while continuing to interfere in areas under provincial jurisdiction by spending wildly.

The spending power of the federal government must be rebalanced and limited. Quebec must reaffirm vigorously, as it has done traditionally, that there is no constitutional basis for the federal spending power. This is no small matter. That behaviour by the government, especially the current government, which will not change even if its leader changes, flies in the face of the Canadian Constitution. As a matter of fact, the federal government unduly interferes in areas of provincial jurisdiction and spends recklessly even though the Constitution puts limits on how it can spend.

Quebec must maintain its demand for the unconditional right to opt out with full financial compensation. It is funny because, yesterday, my colleague, the member for Trois-Rivières, moved a motion asking that the House acknowledge that Quebec constitutes a nation and has the right to opt out of any federal initiative it considers unsuitable. The same principle would apply to any other province requesting the right to opt out. That is part of the very principle of federation.

In his report, the present Quebec Liberal minister of finance, Mr. Séguin, said that the right to opt out was necessary. Yesterday, the federal Liberal members from Quebec refused to vote in favour of that principle. They refused to vote in favour of the motion by the member for Trois-Rivières, which asked that Quebec be recognized as a nation and be given the right to opt out of any federal program not in line with its own interests.

That was mentioned in the Séguin report. I repeat that Mr. Séguin is now a Quebec Liberal minister. In Quebec, there is unanimity; all three parties agree with that motion. The federal Liberal members from Quebec remained silent. They still claim that they serve the interests of Quebec. However, there is only one party here defending Quebec's interests, and that is the courageous Bloc Quebecois. The others just knuckle under. Each time they have the opportunity to rise or speak for Quebec, they stay put. They belong to the party of the silent. That is what we call them in Quebec.

That is why, come the next election, Quebeckers will not trust again.

National Poppy CampaignStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Gérard Binet Liberal Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, every year, during the National Poppy Campaign, more than 15 million scarlet poppies blossom on the lapels of Canadians from coast to coast.

Yesterday afternoon, at Rideau Hall, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada and Patron of the Royal Canadian Legion, received the first poppy of the 2003 campaign from Lieutenant-General Charles Belzile, Dominion Grand President.

The poppy is the national symbol of remembrance. It honours those who served our country in two world wars, the Korean conflict and peacekeeping missions. Its colour is reminiscent of the blood-red flowers that still grow on the fields of honour in France and Belgium.

I urge all Canadians to proudly wear their poppies and to pay tribute to the Canadian soldiers who died in action.

HockeyStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Canadian Alliance Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a principle of law that everyone is entitled to equal treatment before the law without discrimination.

Federal tax collectors have been busy auditing and assessing Saskatchewan Jr. A hockey teams. These actions threaten the very existence of that league. Now it is discovered that the federal tax collectors have not been auditing and assessing more than 120 Jr. A teams in the other provinces.

The people of Saskatchewan are again wondering, why is the Liberal government attacking rural Saskatchewan? This discrimination violates all notions of fairness.

The actions of the Liberal government are a direct attack on Saskatchewan amateur sports. It is a direct attack against the dreams of the players, their parents, their fans and the communities.

It is an attack on Canadian unity. The Liberal government should be very much ashamed of itself.

SHARE Agricultural FoundationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Liberal Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge 25 successful years of operation of the SHARE Agricultural Foundation.

SHARE stands for Sending Help and Assistance Everywhere. The motivation to form SHARE was the result of a trip to Kenya by David Armstrong of Caledon, Peel County, where he witnessed extreme hunger and poverty.

When David returned home, he and his late brother, Neil, solicited the involvement of a number of dairy farmers in Peel and Halton counties to donate high quality cattle to send to poor countries where infant mortality was particularly high due to the lack of milk for infants and pregnant women.

Since that time, the foundation has grown steadily, and the efforts and donations of the many people who support SHARE have helped to alleviate poverty, hunger and death for thousands of people in a number of developing countries.

SHARE is more than a vision. It is a program that proves that individual Canadians can make a difference where the need is greatest. I ask all members to join me in congratulating the SHARE members on 25 years of caring and dedication.

Toronto Humane SocietyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, for over 100 years the Toronto Humane Society has provided a desperately needed haven for injured and abandoned animals in the City of Toronto.

In any given year, over 8,000 animals pass through the shelter, which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The injured receive veterinary care. Abandoned animals are given a safe haven, and wildlife is cared for and released to its natural habitat.

While October is adopt a dog month, the shelter also has hundreds of cats in need of homes. Adoption fees have been cut and a new family member is waiting to be picked up.

For directions to the Toronto Humane Society website persons can go to www.torontohumanesociety.com.

AutismStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Walt Lastewka Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House and the people of Canada that October is Autism Month. Autism brings many challenges to children and their families.

The Government of Canada is committed to improving the health and well-being of Canadians and will continue to support the efforts by the provinces and territories to provide services to those who are affected by this disorder.

The Government of Canada collaborates with other levels of government, non-governmental organizations and the voluntary sector to support a range of programs and initiatives to assist all children, including those with disabilities, to reach their full potential.

These include the federal disabilities strategy, the Centres of Excellence for Children's Well-Being, the Community Action Program for Children and the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Early Childhood Development Agreement.

The government undertakes its responsibility to the United Nations convention on the rights of the child by including the rights of children with disabilities to have access to the highest attainable standard of health and respecting children's rights without discrimination.

We must continue to support families and children of all ages by partnering at all levels to ensure that those with disabilities, such as autism, can fully participate in Canadian society.

National DefenceStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, all Sea King helicopter training flights have been grounded because of technical problems. This is unprecedented.

Who is responsible for this dangerous situation? The king of obstinance, that is who.

There is absolutely no excuse for the Prime Minister's unreasonable behaviour in delaying the acquisition of new helicopters for the last 10 years. The high flyer from Shawinigan is the one who should be grounded for good. Thankfully, sooner maybe rather than later, he will be.

He has been playing Russian roulette with the lives of our troops. They know it. We know it. He knows it and every Canadian knows it. He is just hoping he can sneak out of office before there is a major Sea King accident that he will have to take responsibility for.

There is no one more cowardly than a leader who will put other lives at risk because of pride and arrogance. A 10 year reign of error, promise maker to deal breaker. It has been a decade of delay, denial and deception. His D day is coming soon.

The Prime Minister will be judged as a leader of unparalleled stubbornness. I say shame.

Federal-Municipal RelationsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Liberal Erie—Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, in January 2004, the Regional Municipality of Niagara will host the third annual Smarter Niagara Summit.

This year's conference will focus on municipal-federal-provincial relationships to promote common policies on brownfield redevelopment and smart growth incentives.

Niagara's approach to the concept of smart growth has been successful because of an inclusive process. By engaging the Niagara community in discussion forms, by enlisting business and community leaders in the decision making process, and by providing thoughtful insights from dynamic speakers, it has developed a robust approach to addressing many big picture items affecting the region.

I wish to congratulate the region of Niagara for again hosting this valuable summit and for the focus on federal-municipal relations.

With Niagara's proximity to the United States, the locally driven bi-national forum, the fact that it is surrounded by international waters, its prominence as a trade route, the presence of the Welland canal system, border security issues and more, the need for strong federal-municipal relations in Niagara is very pronounced.

Middle EastStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, recently Oren Medick, an Israeli citizen and peace activist with Gush Shalom, visited Quebec to share his concerns about the erection of the security fence, a fortified wall, in the West Bank.

Mr. Medick talked about the terrible consequences for the Israeli and Palestinian people if Prime Minister Sharon's government sticks to its plan.

Allow me to remind members of an important conclusion reached at the European Summit held in Brussels on October 16 and 17, and I quote:

The European Council is particularly concerned by the route marked out for the so-calledsecurity fence in the Occupied West Bank.

This wall is in no way a solution to the deplorable suicide bombings and will certainly not bring peace to this part of the world already hard hit by violence. All of us have a responsibility with respect to what is happening in the Middle East.

Canadian ForcesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

David Price Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, HMCS Calgary will return home soon after three months of patrol duty in the Arabian gulf region participating in Operation Apollo, Canada's contribution to the international campaign against terrorism.

More than 7,000 Canadian Forces personnel from the navy, army and air force served on Operation Apollo, which began in October 2001 and will end with the return of HMCS Calgary .

Yesterday, the captain, Commander Dan MacKeigan, expressed his pride for the excellence of his Canadian crew and his gratitude for the constant support received from home. I know we all echo that pride.

I believe Commander MacKeigan's own words are best to describe the accomplishments of our brave men and women in uniform under Operation Apollo, “We were here on your behalf, making a real difference every single day”.

On behalf of my colleagues, and all Canadians, I wish to thank all Canadian Forces personnel.

Edmonton Public LibraryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Peter Goldring Canadian Alliance Edmonton Centre-East, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Edmonton Public Library is celebrating its 90th year of serving.

For 90 years it has been a repository of worldly knowledge; 90 years of wonderful, uninhibited time travel through volumes of fictional adventure, historical truths and fantastic accomplishment; and 90 years of enriching the lives of Edmontonians.

This past year has been yet another milestone in the ever-developing library. The Lois Hole Library Legacy Program initiated by Lois Hole, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, is planting the seeds to grow the Edmonton Public Library by buying books and materials to enhance the library's collection.

I wish to encourage others to invest, as I have, in the Library Legacy Program. Through knowledge, dreams can evolve. Edmonton's libraries have brought much knowledge and stirred many dreams to become a reality.

I wish to congratulate Edmonton public libraries. May they continue for all time to connect the people of Edmonton to the knowledge and cultures of the world.

Task Force on Seasonal WorkStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Liberal Algoma—Manitoulin, ON

Mr. Speaker, earlier this afternoon, several colleagues and I officially launched the Prime Minister's task force on seasonal work.

We have been mandated to examine the important seasonal economy by listening to seasonal workers, their employers, and seasonally dependent small businesses and communities. Task force members look forward to this challenge and encourage Canadians to contact us via our website at www.liberal.parl.gc.ca/seasonal.

Canadians at large depend on Canada's seasonal economy for many goods and services such as tourist destinations to visit, the food that we eat, wood for our homes, furs to wear, agricultural commodities, construction of our homes and buildings, and much more.

At the same time, the true value of seasonal work is often undervalued. We should not take our seasonal economy for granted. As a society, we should recognize the value, strengths, weaknesses and gaps in the seasonal economy, and together do better.

The task force will soon be visiting a number of communities across Canada which will provide us with a good cross-section of witnesses in areas of tourism, fisheries, forestry, construction, the oil industry, retail and others.

Government of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Progressive Conservative Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Canadian Transportation Commission condemned the government's decision to purchase used rail equipment for VIA Rail, another $35 million and equipment still not in full service.

Yesterday, the 40 year old Sea King helicopter fleet was put out of service because it cannot fly safely.

Yesterday, the Minister of National Defence committed half a billion dollars for mobile guns that appear to compromise the needs of the military.

Yesterday, a Senate committee reported that our coasts are vulnerable because we do not have the ships nor the personnel to do the job. The costs of the used substandard submarines continue to escalate.

Yesterday, Canada dropped from 9th to 16th place in business competitiveness due to a perceived drop in the quality of its public institutions. Canada fell off the list of the top 10.

Yesterday, bargain basement decisions have come home to roost. This is the legacy of the Prime Minister. This will be the legacy of the member for LaSalle--Émard.

City of DrummondvilleStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, a Statistics Canada study on the industrial diversification of Canada's major cities shows that between 1992 and 2002 Drummondville was the leader among census agglomerations under 100,000 inhabitants. This is proof that the recovery strategy in effect since the mid-1980s has yielded dividends.

Drummondville's performance is all the more exceptional because its index surpasses those of larger agglomerations such as Ottawa, Calgary, Victoria or Windsor. Drummondville's growth rate remains steady. The year 2002 was the 11th consecutive year in which we succeeded in creating more than 1,000 industrial jobs.

Finally, the strength of Drummondville is the diversity of its economy. Few regions in Quebec or in Canada can boast of an industrial structure with so many strong sectors.

I congratulate Martin Dupont, the industrial commissioner, and his entire team for making Drummondville a place that can attract large-scale projects.

Food For All WalkStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to applaud the efforts of two constituents of mine, Betty and George Zondervan.

George is a retired Canadian army captain and a resident of Barrie who has walked across Canada from Vancouver to Halifax to help the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a Christian organization that helps provide food and development assistance to people in need. George, at the age of 69, started his journey in Vancouver in March 2002 and was followed closely behind by his wife in the van.

The Food For All Walk finished in Halifax on October 25 and has helped to raise awareness for world hunger as well as raise funds for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

CIDA provides $16 million annually to match Canada Foodgrains Bank shipments on a 4 to 1 basis, and this greatly enhances the amount of food and assistance that can be provided to those in need globally.

I ask all members to join me in congratulating Betty and George on their monumental cross-country journey and their dedication to such a worthy cause.

Paul MoistStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today, on behalf of the New Democratic Party, to congratulate my friend, neighbour and constituent, Mr. Paul Moist, who was elected yesterday the national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees at its convention in Quebec City.

CUPE members elected Paul to succeed Judy Darcy as the national president of Canada's largest union. We look forward to working with Paul in representing the interests of some 535,000 public sector workers who are members of CUPE.

I have every confidence that Paul will build on his union successes by supporting members at the bargaining table, building strong local unions, stopping privatization, pushing for increased funding of medicare, and other public services.

Mr. Moist has a long history with CUPE and the labour movement. He joined his union at age 19 in 1975 as a greenhouse gardener in Winnipeg's parks and recreation department. A well respected union leader in Manitoba, a province with deep roots in the labour movement, Mr. Moist has dedicated his life to elevating the standards, wages and working conditions of the people he represented.

Our party wishes to congratulate him in his new role.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, environmental assessment helps us make wise choices about the environment before projects are constructed.

This is why I am pleased that amendments to strengthen the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act take effect today.

The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development diligently worked on this legislation to increase transparency and to close loopholes. These amendments will help safeguard our environment through a process that is more predictable, certain and timely. We will see the quality of assessments improve through measures to promote compliance and ensure better follow-up programs for projects.

By strengthening the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act the government is once again demonstrating its commitment to protect our fragile environment.

Okanagan--CoquihallaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me today to highlight two notable initiatives from the Okanagan--Coquihalla constituency along with a request to the government on behalf of each.

On October 3, Westbank First Nation hosted a remarkable signing ceremony to celebrate the achievement of a self-government agreement seen as positive by all parties concerned, native and non-native. Many say this agreement could be a Canadian model.

It is an honour to have Chief Robert Louie here today, and I echo his request that the government make sure the enabling legislation to deal with this comes before the House before we adjourn or prorogue.

Also, I want to acknowledge one of Canada's most active service clubs, namely Kin Canada. In a time of great need this summer as destructive forest fires raged in the Okanagan and other parts of B.C. and Alberta, Kin Canada wasted no time in pledging $50,000 and 40,000 pounds of beef toward aid and relief to those affected by these fires.

I especially acknowledge the good work of the Westbank Area Association of Kin Canada and Regional Kinette Governor Michelle Apps for their tremendous service to our community.

I ask the federal government to delay no longer and be as forthcoming with financial aid and relief as the good Kinspeople have been.

National DefenceOral Question Period

October 30th, 2003 / 2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, of all the embarrassing legacies of this government, perhaps the worst is in national defence. Today we have the entire Sea King fleet grounded. This is 10 years after the Prime Minister eliminated the replacement program with the stroke of a pen, and after 10 years of budget cuts by the new Liberal leader and 10 years without a contract to get new helicopters.

Is the Prime Minister not embarrassed to be leaving office after a decade with no replacements for the Sea Kings?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am not embarrassed at all to have been in a position to make sure that we would have six consecutive balanced budgets in Canada.

Yes, the helicopters were not replaced, but the same type of helicopter is used by the President of the United States to go from the White House to Camp David, so I presume that if it is a good enough helicopter for the President of the United States, it should be a good enough helicopter for Canadian soldiers.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I do not say that our soldiers may be facing heavier combat than the President of the United States, directly, but we have our Sea Kings grounded, two-thirds of the Hercules aircraft grounded, tanks and Iltis jeeps that are worn out, and inadequate replacements.

Can the Prime Minister explain why it took him only one day to get new Challenger jets for himself when he wanted them but after 10 years our military people do not have the helicopters they need?