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House of Commons Hansard #96 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nations.

Topics

National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we will increase the regular force strength to 70,000. We will increase the reserve force strength to 30,000. We will bring in new equipment to replace destroyers, frigates, maritime patrol aircraft, fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft, next generation fighter aircraft and a new family of land combat vehicles and systems.

I expect every step along the way the Liberal Party will oppose rebuilding the Canadian military, but it never hesitated to send them into dangerous combat situations. We will give them the tools they need to do their job.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, we cannot say that they are choking on the truth.

We already knew that the Prime Minister was trying to create a diversion on Monday because his Minister of Foreign Affairs is a disgrace.

And now two days later the Conservative government's so-called defence strategy is a disgrace as well. Even military personnel are saying that the government has mixed up the numbers.

Taxpayers want to know how much this will cost over the next 20 years, and, above all, who is telling the truth? Is it the Prime Minister, who says it is $30 billion, military officials, who say it is $50 billion, or the journalists, who are now saying $96 billion? Who is telling the truth?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister has said, the decade of darkness during the Liberal regime is over. This government is acting as the Prime Minister has said.

Let me make it very clear. The budget by the end of 20 years is going to be approximately $30 billion, but the capital cost acquisition of six major pieces of equipment is going to be around $45 billion to $50 billion. I hope the member understands the difference between capital costs and operating costs.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, we need to get one thing straight. In 1993, we inherited a $42 billion deficit and had to clean up the mess they left behind. Starting in 1999, we reinvested in the armed forces and, in 2005, we made the largest one-time investment in the Canadian armed forces. So they have nothing to teach us.

Instead of hiding the truth, especially their defence plan because he is afraid of the consequences, could the Prime Minister be transparent for once and table his strategy? Because his speech is a disaster.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, we are very transparent on this issue. The Prime Minister has stated what our defence schedule is going to be. It is very clear, after the decade of darkness of that party, which sent our troops into harm's way without equipment, that this government will have equipment for our soldiers.

Let me make it very clear. The $30 billion is the size of the budget at the end of 20 years. The $50 billion is for the capital budget for purchasing equipment. It is as simple as that.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister announced his new military strategy, he was quite vague about how much it would cost. This morning, we learned that the Department of National Defence is forecasting expenditures of about $96 billion, three times the figure that was announced. To explain this gap, a defence source told Le Devoir: “Politically, $100 billion in new defence spending, even over 20 years, is hard to sell to the public.”

Will the Prime Minister stop concealing information and tell us exactly how much his military plans will cost? Is it $30 billion or $96 billion?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, I can explain the figures. They are clear. The budget for National Defence will be $30 billion in 20 years, after the rebuilding of the forces that we have proposed. That is the annual budget. During that period, there will be capital investments of $45 billion to $50 billion. These are major investments not only for the military, but for the communities and industries that depend on the Canadian Forces.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister does not even have a foreign policy, yet he is getting ready to spend $96 billion on a defence policy even though the details and time lines of that policy are not yet known.

Will the Prime Minister promise to table a foreign policy in this House as well as a detailed plan of his military strategy so that we can debate them before he spends billions of dollars on military equipment?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have announced increases in troops and equipment. Everything is clear. I know that the Bloc is opposed to these investments in Canada's military, yet it is asking for economic spinoffs from these investments. We are doing both.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

A source in the defence community claims that when the Canada first strategy was presented, a detailed version of a document breaking down the nearly $100 billion was ready to go out, but it was apparently shelved because the government thought it was too detailed and controversial.

Is this not just another shameful attempt by this Conservative government to mislead the public?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, this week the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence announced the Canada first defence strategy based on three priorities. The first priority is the defence of Canada and Canadians. The second priority is being a full partner in continental defence and playing a leadership role to preserve international stability and security. That is Canada's strategy as laid down. Included in that is long term, dependable financing. I do not understand what more they want.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the more versions there are, the more confused the government gets. That is nothing new, since there is no national defence strategy or foreign affairs strategy. The secretary of state did not even answer my question. And there is more.

Military officials wanted to respond to media questions, but they had to refrain from doing so on direction from the government. On condition of anonymity, one of them said that it is hard to sell $100 billion in new military spending to the public.

When military officials become more voluble than the government, we know we have a serious problem with excessive control and secrecy. Is this the famous transparency the Conservative government promised us?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the DND officials briefed members of the media on the government's Canada first defence strategy. Canadians are proud that after a decade of darkness by the Liberals, this government is finally rebuilding our defence capabilities. Canadians care about that.

Energy CostsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadian families are being hard hit by the increase in energy costs. At the pump, gas prices are at an all time high. At home, the price of natural gas has increased by 20%. At the supermarket, the price at the checkout is going up. On vacation, families have to pay surcharges on the cost of their flights.

Does the Prime Minister know that prices have been skyrocketing since he has been in power? When will he appoint an ombudsman to protect consumers?

Energy CostsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, prices are increasing around the world. Such is the reality of the international market. The government tried to protect consumers by reducing taxes, but unfortunately the NDP and the other opposition parties voted against those reductions for taxpayers and consumers.

Perhaps the reason for their opposition is the NDP's action plan posted on its Web site indicating that the real cost of fossil fuels is too low. That is the NDP's real position.

Energy CostsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, what is absolutely crystal clear is the Prime Minister has absolutely no plan. That is what the answer has made clear.

He is not going to do anything about soaring and natural gas rates. He has no strategy, other than giving billions of dollars to the biggest corporations making the most profits and gouging Canadians. He certainly has no vision, despite our efforts to give him the opportunity, to lay out a vision for the new energy economy, for green jobs.

It is time for some effective solutions. We have proposed some, such as an ombudsman to help protect consumers, a home retrofit program across the country, real incentives for clean energy, instead of subsidies to tar sands. Why will he not accept our ideas?

Energy CostsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the NDP had on its website, which it took off, an action plan that said that fossil fuel prices were artificially low. This is the real opinion of the NDP members. It is why they back every measure from the Liberals and everybody else to propose carbon taxes and higher gas taxes.

This government has given tax breaks to consumers. We are making investments for the development of alternate energy because we know fossil fuels are going to continue to rise in price over time.

We are acting, whereas all they are doing is making hypocritical criticisms.

National DefenceOral Questions

May 15th, 2008 / 2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Monday my colleague from Yukon raised some very specific questions about search and rescue aircraft and the government's decision to cancel the spending that was provided in the 2004 Liberal budget. The response by the government was frankly embarrassing. Therefore, I would like to give the minister an opportunity to respond.

Why has the Conservative government done nothing to address the critical problems facing our country's aged search and rescue aircraft fleet?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, it is amazing to have a hypocritical question come from the party on that side which was responsible for the search and rescue aircraft and did not do anything.

This government has been acting. I can assure the House that we take the safety of our crew very seriously. We do not put them at undue risk. We do not fly unsafe aircraft. It is as simple as that.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, what is frankly embarrassing is that the Conservative government inherited a $13 billion surplus and it did not get the job done. The money was there and the previous Liberal government actually put it down on paper, unlike the Conservative government. The old planes are facing mechanical and technical problems. Getting parts is hard because they are not even made any more. In December they ran out of spare propellers.

When is the government going to announce a firm delivery date?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, let me tell the member quite clearly that despite the decade of darkness, this government has acted.

I want to say this. We kept all our contractual obligations alive. In fact, we spent $18 million to ensure the safety of our Sea King helicopters and pilots.

As I said, we will continue to spend money where it is needed, as announced in the Canada first defence strategy.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canada has had a proud history on the international stage led by foreign affairs ministers who were engaged on Canada's behalf. Ministers like Pearson, Sharp, MacDonald, Clark, Axworthy, Manley and Graham all represented Canada competently and successfully.

The current minister's gaffes and security concerns have forced the government to sideline him to minimize the damage. As it appears the Prime Minister no longer has confidence in the foreign affairs minister, will he replace him?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of our record since we have been in power because we have been an active member of the United Nations. We have helped the victims of Darfur. We have helped the people in Haiti. We are the second largest voluntary donor to the peace mission in Darfur. We are getting things done for Canadians. We are playing our role throughout the world and we will continue to do so.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, one of the things accomplished by this minister is to have put Canada on the verge of losing its chance at a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons is trying to reassure us about our national security. He should be a little more specific. Why is he unable to tell us that all the necessary security checks were done regarding the former girlfriend of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and that at no time was national security ever threatened? It is a simple question.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the opposition members continue to ask silly questions about people's personal lives. We have assured the House there was no issue of national security, but it is consistent with the types of questions we have had from the Liberals in the House all week, all spring, all the past year, while they have avoided votes.

It brings to mind something I saw in a local play the other day. It was a quote from Jo in Little Women the Musical, who said, obviously speaking of the Liberals, “The problem with doing nothing is you are never really sure when you are finished”.