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House of Commons Hansard #156 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Chair Conservative Royal Galipeau

We will now move on to the next series of interventions reserved for the official opposition.

The hon. member for North Vancouver, might he also want to tell me how he plans to share his time? We will close in 10 minutes, at 10:31.

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Chair, I will be splitting my time with the members for Newton—North Delta, Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, and Bourassa; two and a half minutes, two and a half minutes, one minute and three minutes. I believe that adds up correctly.

Let me begin by saying that the residents in North Vancouver appreciate the dedication of our men and women in Afghanistan. We would like them to come home sooner than later, safely.

In the last election the Conservative Party promised to provide new territorial battalions with 100 regular and at least 400 reserve force personnel each to be prepared to respond to emergencies in Canada's major urban centres, with battalions in the west to be stationed in areas of Vancouver, Calgary, Regina and Winnipeg.

Particularly in light of the predicted high risk of a major earthquake that is expected for the lower mainland of British Columbia and the recent world natural disasters, I would like to know how prepared we are. In particular, I would like to ask the minister what steps he has taken as minister to implement this promise. I would like to know what it would cost to carry out this promise. Has the money for this promise been booked in either of the past two budgets?

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Chair, we will meet that commitment. The money is in the budgets that I have today. This is a serious commitment. You remember in the last election when your party ran ads about soldiers in cities, well, you are going to get them.

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Chair Conservative Royal Galipeau

I would like to caution members from both sides to do the debate through the Chair and to refer to each other in the third person and it will all go a lot easier.

The hon. member for North Vancouver.

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Chair, in the last election the Conservative Party promised yet again to restore a regular army presence in British Columbia with a new rapid reaction army battalion of 650 regular force personnel that will be air deployable to be stationed at CFB Comox.

I would like to know what steps the minister has taken to implement this promise. How much will it cost to carry out this promise? Has the money for this promise been booked in either of the two budgets?

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Chair, we will meet this commitment. The money is in the budget. As to the matter of timing, it is like everything else. As I said before, we are rebuilding the army, air force and navy at the same time. We have huge amounts of equipment to acquire. We have reorganizations to take place. We have new units to create. It is on the list and it will be done.

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

May 17th, 2007 / 10:20 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Chair, very quickly, I would ask if the minister could provide the actual costs, not now, but at some point in the near future so that I can have that part of my question answered.

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Chair, the member will get the numbers when the model is completed and it is announced by the government. He will then have a number.

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Chair, I am very proud of our women and men in uniform. They are doing an incredible job in heroic circumstances. I along with the people from Newton—North Delta salute the forces. It is shameful that the government is trying to shield itself from criticism by invoking their good name.

Earlier today we heard in the ethics committee, after the shameful filibustering by Conservative members, that the access to information requests have been met with unusual resistance from both the minister's department and DFAIT.

Was the minister aware of these difficulties? Was the minister's staff updated and if not, why not?

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Chair, unfortunately, I do not know what the member is talking about. If he would identify what document he is talking about, I could answer the question.

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Chair, this is all about the detainees in Afghanistan. I am sure the minister is well aware.

When I look at this communication, this is all about accountability. What does this say about the communication or lack of communication with his own department officials? Is this how Canada's new government functions? What is the minister going to do to fix it and how is he going to ensure real accountability? Canadians, like my constituents, want to know.

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Chair, I am still not clear but I will take a stab at it.

If there is information about detainees, this is operational information which the government does not release. If that is what the member is talking about, it is operational information about detainees. If it is something else, I would have to know.

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Chair, I will give it another try.

Last year, when the hon. Minister of National Defence misled Canadians by telling them that the International Committee of the Red Cross was monitoring the treatment of detainees, was the minister aware that it only had to report to the Afghanistan government and not the Canadian government?

Was it a question of the minister not being briefed correctly or did the minister simply not understand that his responsibility was to the detaining power?

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Chair, as I said when I made a statement in the House, I provided the information based on my best knowledge at the time.

I would like to make another comment. I have a quote from a member that says:

I have been in places of Afghan detention myself and have seen the work that the International Committee of the Red Cross does, and I believe it is the best guarantee of their safety and freedom from abuse.

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Who said that?

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

The deputy leader of the Liberal Party. So he believed it.

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Chair, I would first like to say how proud I am to be the member of Parliament for the 9 Wing Gander in Newfoundland and Labrador. At this point I would like to send a big congratulations and a bon voyage to our outgoing base commander, Lieutenant-Colonel James MacAleese. I am proud to say that our next base commander will be Lieutenant-Colonel Tammy Harris who is the first female base commander in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Swirling rumours have been going on for quite some time about the fact that 103 Search and Rescue, a proud and big part of 9 Wing Gander, one of most active search and rescue squadrons in the country, is being moved from Gander to St. John's. I was wondering if the minister could clarify the position that it will indeed stay in Gander.

Also, he mentioned earlier that he was awaiting information from the air force about fixed wing aircraft search and rescue. I was wondering how he personally feels about the necessity of fixed wing search and rescue and the valiant efforts shown by our members of search and rescue across this country.

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Chair, I am not aware of any plan to move the search and rescue from Gander. It would need to cross my desk, I would need to approve it but I have not seen it. To my knowledge, there is no intention at all of moving that group from Gander.

With respect to fixed wing search and rescue, I think it is one of the most vital requirements of the Canadian Forces. At the moment we are operating with a variety of aircraft that are successfully doing the job. As I said, the air force is working out options for the future on what it determines is the most appropriate way to replace this capability in the future.

However, for now it is a very good service run by very professional people and it has saved many lives.

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Chair, unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. A great deal has been said here this evening, and, I think, a review of the blues would show that this discussion could go on. In closing, I would like to revisit a few points.

First of all, I would like to talk about the Chinook. It came to our attention, and to that of certain journalists, that the F series Chinook helicopters need to be more heavily armoured and need added elements of protection, because they are not capable of protecting themselves.

Yet, according to Boeing itself, the base model Chinooks cost $40 million U.S. However, because of the way we want to use them, they will cost $80 million.

How can we possibly stay within the $4.7 billion budget, if the price of the helicopters doubles?

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Chair Conservative Royal Galipeau

I would just like to advise the hon. minister that this is the last question and that he has one minute to reply.

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Chair, as I said before, the Chinooks, when they arrive, will have all the latest defence devices on them and that is included in our budget.

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Chair Conservative Royal Galipeau

It being 10:31 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 81(4) all votes are deemed reported.

The committee will rise and I will now leave the chair.

National Defence—Main Estimates 2007-08Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 10:32 p.m.)