House of Commons Hansard #99 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was aircraft.


Opposition Motion—National Defence
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.


Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke about whether these are the right tools to do the job. The question is: What is the job?

My question then is: Is this not the opportunity, given what has happened in Afghanistan and the whole issue of peacemaking and peacekeeping, to conduct a foreign policy review with respect to what Canada actually is expected to do and what Canadians want us to be seen to be doing? Is this not the time to put this on hold, never mind the issues with respect to whether it should be a proposal call or whatever, and that we really need to look at what we are doing—

Opposition Motion—National Defence
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Parkdale—High Park.

Opposition Motion—National Defence
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.


Gerard Kennedy Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the short answer is yes, we should have that very debate. It is being denied. Our mission will follow the spending instead, which is the wrong way to go. That is no way to respect our military personnel. If the average airmen were involved in this particular debate, what would they be looking for and what would they need? Consistently the government tries to speak for them and does not allow this debate to take place.

Canadians cannot have the confidence that we know what we want our military to do. That is what should come first. Then we should ask ourselves how to support them in the best fashion possible. This massive expenditure is the other way around. It would take other options away from us and would not allow us to actually support our armed services when we deploy them for things that could be completely different from where this expenditure puts us.

1:35 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall


November 18, 2010

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 18th day of November, 2010, at 9:10 a.m.

Yours sincerely, Sheila-Marie Cook

Secretary to the Governor General

The schedule indicates the bills assented to were BillC-40, An Act to establish National Seniors Day and Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime).

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—National Defence
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.


Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to the motion moved by the Liberal Party on its opposition day, especially since I am the member of Parliament for the beautiful Mirabel region, home to a significant part of the aerospace industry. I have been following the F-35 situation very closely over the past few weeks and months.

From the outset, the Bloc Québécois is not in favour of the motion moved by the Liberal Party on the F-35 contract. We cannot say we did not try to make them see things differently.

It is too late to do anything about this purchase contract because it has already been set in motion. It is a done deal. We proposed an amendment to move forward with this matter, but the Liberal Party has rejected it. The Bloc Québécois thinks we should focus on two important items when it comes to this F-35 contract. First, it is high time that we come up with a real foreign affairs policy here in Canada. The government makes military purchases, from helicopters to tanks to fighter jets, without any real foreign affairs policy. These purchases are made without any sense of where Canada is going or the direction, which is becoming more military than anything else, Quebeckers are funding.

The first part of the Bloc Québécois amendment indicates that this purchase is regrettable since no real foreign affairs and defence policy has been discussed openly here in the House. We would have thought that the Liberal Party would agree with the Bloc Québécois on this. The Liberals refused simply because they agree with the direction the Conservative Party is taking toward a more belligerent way of defending this country's foreign affairs, with no real plan.

The second part had to do with guaranteed economic spinoffs. The Bloc Québécois will not give up on that because 55% of the aerospace industry is in Quebec, and we believe that investments in Quebec should be in proportion to spending. We are being told to leave companies alone. There are companies, some of them in my riding, that tell us they are able to compete with foreign companies, and they could end up bitterly disappointed one day because this Conservative government did not see the need to protect investments in proportion to spending, investments that will be made in Canada and particularly in Quebec.

That is why we proposed an amendment to the Liberal Party's motion today to encourage a real discussion on this country's foreign policy and also to ensure that real economic spinoffs are guaranteed in any contract the government may sign for the purchase of these F-35s.

Obviously, we must also have a good understanding of the economic activity related to the aerospace industry. This is very important to Quebec because it represents jobs. Once again, it is clear that there is no real aerospace development policy in Canada.

The government launches programs, creates new ones and abolishes others, but there is no real action plan to develop the aerospace industry. The industry in the Montreal-Mirabel region is the third largest in the world, after Toulouse and Seattle. In my opinion, that represents a very important economic force.

The aerospace technology and engineering training that is offered in Quebec provides the industry with its number one resource, people, but the Canadian government still needs to develop a long-term plan. For this industry to develop, it needs huge investments in research and development. This Conservative government has no long-term strategy, and neither did the Liberal government before it.

All that to say that when we look at both of these parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, current events seem to dictate their policies. That is never a good idea because that is how we end up in never-ending wars. That is what we are seeing with Afghanistan.

According to the government, the extension of the mission is meant to focus on training. There are 950 trainers. Our leader, the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, joked—but there was some truth to what he said—that with that many trainers, there will not be enough classrooms in Afghanistan for the schoolchildren. That is a fact. There is no long-term plan and no Foreign Affairs and National Defence strategy for Afghanistan. There is also no long-term national program for developing the aerospace industry. That is something the Bloc Québécois has always called for.

Cancelling the F-35 contracts, which is what the Liberal Party would have the government do, would send a very bad message to the companies that have already begun work on developing this aircraft. I am thinking of Héroux-Devtek, L-3 MAS, Pratt & Whitney and the other companies based in Quebec. A number of them are located in Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, the riding I represent, but there are also companies in other parts of Quebec and the rest of Canada. The decision has been made and we cannot go back on it.

This morning, the Bloc Québécois reached out to the Liberal Party, but we were rebuffed. The Liberals feel that the only solution is to cancel this contract and launch a new competitive process, regardless of how that could hurt the companies that have already started work on the project. Some strategy.

I had the chance to attend an industry briefing setting out the whole long-term strategy for developing an aircraft, all the research and development and all the investments companies are making in order to be among the bidders. Most of our aerospace firms have already made investments in order to be able to bid on work in connection with the F-35 contract.

What the Bloc Québécois is calling for and what we might have expected from the government is that Quebec and Canada benefit from the $12 billion investment. That is what we might have expected. The agreements that have been signed contain no investment guarantees. I know that industry representatives are watching, and I want to acknowledge them. Many of them are in their offices in Mirabel. I can understand that they feel capable of competing with companies around the world. We are the third-largest aerospace centre in the world, but without investment guarantees, we cannot be sure of what will happen.

We would like these companies to understand why the Bloc Québécois wants to require economic spinoffs for Quebec and Canada. Among other reasons, 55% of the aerospace industry is located in Quebec.

A number of experts have considered this issue. The government must address several concerns. I will simply quote from an editorial on the purchase of the F-35s, which was written by Jean-Robert Sansfaçon and published in Le Devoir on July 20, 2010. It is important that the members of the House understand the nature of Quebec's criticism. Here is an excerpt:

If the...government planned in provide its armed forces with the type of aircraft that will be central to the United States' military strategy ten years from now, it did so because it intends to play an active part in it, as is the case already in Afghanistan. Given the circumstances, the government could, at the very least, have asked Canadians their opinion before dragging them into the type of situation that history has shown is always much easier to get into than to get out of.

I took the time to read this excerpt so that the other members of the House would understand that situations like the one we saw this morning with Afghanistan arise when we do not have a foreign affairs and defence strategy, as is currently the case in Canada, and when we are being towed in the wake of a neighbour like the United States. It is never-ending.

This morning, we reached out to the Liberals and asked them to accept our amendment, which has two parts. The first would give Canada an actual foreign affairs and defence policy. The Liberals rejected this amendment quite simply because they support the Conservative government's approach, which involves being towed in the wake of the United States. They must be aware that voices are being raised in opposition.

I quoted Jean-Robert Sansfaçon, an editorial writer, but there are many Quebeckers and Canadians who are wondering what direction Canada's foreign affairs and defence policies are taking. No one knows. What we do know is that we are following in the footsteps of the Americans. It is time that we have a real debate in the House about the government's foreign affairs and defence policies. The Liberals' decision this morning to reject the Bloc Québécois amendment clearly shows that they are willing to support the haphazard, American-style foreign affairs and defence policy.

The second part of the Bloc Québécois amendment would guarantee spinoffs for our companies and our industries. If we invest up to $12 billion in this contract, we must ensure that we receive $12 billion in spinoffs for Quebec and Canada. It is very important for Quebec, which is home to 50% of the aerospace industry.

This morning, the Liberals again said no. They are trying to defend a motion to cancel a contract that is already in place. The last time they cancelled a contract—the helicopter contract—it took so many years to choose another supplier that our helicopters were falling out of the sky. That is the Liberal reality.

This morning, in its wisdom, the Bloc came to the aid of the Liberal Party. The Liberals were unwise and did not accept our outstretched hand. When an amendment is proposed in the House, the party presenting it supports it. Since 2000, the party moving a motion during an opposition day has been able to reject any proposed amendments. The Liberals did so this morning; they used this procedure.

We have not seen that often but, again, I understand. They are obsessed. They made a bad choice, and they do not know what else they can do to explain it. And they will have a hard time explaining it to the people of Mirabel and to the workers in the Montreal and Mirabel aerospace industry who are counting on this contract to guarantee, save and protect their jobs.

We sincerely believe that it is time we had a real debate about this government's foreign and defence policies. We need a real debate on the economic spinoffs that should be included when a contract of this size is signed. That is what we proposed to the Liberal Party this morning. Obviously, they refused. And so we oppose today's motion that aims to put an end to this contract that has already been approved, a contract that is already being prepared and in which Quebec and Canadian companies have already invested a lot of money. They are completely ready to claim their piece of the pie.

Once again, we felt that a debate on the orientation or the macro-politics of such a contract—in other words, where the government is going with its foreign affairs and defence policies—was long overdue. What must the government do when signing such a major contract? At the very least, it must guarantee spinoffs for Quebec and Canadian businesses, which the Conservative government has not done.

It is very disappointing that the Liberal Party refused to discuss what the Bloc Québécois was proposing. We will therefore oppose the motion by the Liberal Party, which once again has a very short-term, politicized and partisan view. The Liberals are incapable of any kind of long-term vision for the entire industry and incapable of questioning the Conservative government's foreign affairs and defence policies—which are blindly based on American policies—which they blindly support. A real debate on this was long overdue. The Bloc Québécois tried to initiate such a debate with its amendment, but it was refused. A real debate also must be held on the economic spinoffs that Quebec and Canadian companies should enjoy as a result of such a contract.

Lastly, we could have used this as an opportunity to create a real, long-term investment plan for the development of our aerospace industry with a focus, once again, on research and development. This would have allowed our companies not only to win such a contract, but also to win all other aerospace contracts around the globe.

Prostate Cancer
Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Ed Holder London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, along with thousands of other men, I have looked in the mirror each morning like a teenage boy, wondering if I can grow facial hair.

Despite the laughter, my efforts to grow a moustache have drawn lots of attention to a very serious situation: prostate cancer. Through friends I have been touched by this deadly yet wholly preventable disease.

The month-long Movember campaign has broached the subject with humour. Well it has to, because too many men still do not get it. That is why thousands of men across Canada, including some of my colleagues in this House, otherwise clean shaven and handsome, have grown, or tried to grow, a moustache.

We are raising awareness about prostate cancer, the advantages of regular checkups, early detection and talking to one's doctor. I encourage all Canadians to donate to this worthy cause, but critically, I urge all men to take action now.

To members of this House and my friends and family who have had so much fun at my expense, I ask them to participate in this awareness campaign, too. They might be amazed at how much fun they can have being serious.

Act of Bravery
Statements By Members

November 18th, 2010 / 2 p.m.


Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to salute a woman from Marystown in the riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.

On July 14, 2009, while travelling on the Burin Peninsula Highway, Beverly Rose came upon an accident where a van had left the road, flipped on its side and trapped a family of seven inside.

Beverly heard cries for help coming from the vehicle, and as she rushed toward the van she telephoned her husband telling him to call for an ambulance. When she reached the van, there was smoke coming from it and the possibility of fire breaking out. Beverly risked her own safety in order to help the two adults and five children trapped inside.

She climbed on top of the van and will tell people she does not know where she got the strength to pry open the damaged door on the overturned vehicle. As smoke poured out, Beverly helped those trapped climb out. She passed the children to two men who had also arrived on the scene by then. By her actions, she ensured that tragedy was averted.

I was pleased to nominate Beverly for a decoration for bravery and was especially pleased when she was recently presented the Governor General's Certificate of Commendation.

I ask all members of the House to join me in paying tribute to Beverly Rose for her act of bravery.

La Voix de l’Est Newspaper
Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Robert Vincent Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the entire team at La Voix de l'Est, a daily newspaper that is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Over the years, this paper has become quite well known.

With their professionally written articles and news reports, the employees, who are passionate about current events, have always captured the readers' interest. This paper provides readers with everything they need to stay informed about what is happening locally, in Quebec and elsewhere.

Congratulations to the men and women who have contributed, day in and day out, to writing, producing, photographing and publishing the La Voix de l'Est. Their work has contributed to the sterling reputation this paper has enjoyed for 75 years. And thank you to the people who deliver this daily local paper to our doorsteps in fair weather or foul.

On behalf of my team, I would like to wish La Voix de l'Est success and longevity.

Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is national medicare week, a time to celebrate the strengths of our universal, not-for-profit health care system, the pride of Canadians. It is also time to recognize the challenges we face in meeting our health needs.

Addressing those challenges requires strong federal leadership to uphold the five principles of the Canada Health Act: comprehensiveness, universality, portability, public administration, and accessibility. With only a few years left before the renewal of the 2004 health care agreement, now is the time to show this leadership and work toward making our health care system sustainable.

The NDP is working on ways to improve our system, looking at best practices across the country and by developing policies like a national affordable drug strategy and robust long-term care and community services.

The health care system is just one component of what makes Canadians healthy. Addressing issues such as poverty, food security and housing will help prevent people from becoming ill, saving health care dollars and improving the health of Canadians.

Canadians deserve a health care system and communities that promote their health. Let us work together to achieve this.

Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, last week I had the opportunity to visit the 3M manufacturing plant in Morden, Manitoba, which is in my riding.

3M employs 140 people from the region and has a payroll of almost $9 million per year.

We know that because of our Conservative government Canada is on track to having one of the lowest business tax rates in the G7, which helps keep businesses like 3M in Canada.

Our government believes, and experts have confirmed, low business taxes equal more jobs and more opportunity for everyday Canadians. The only ones who do not seem to get this are the Liberals and their leader.

The Liberals have promised to increase taxes on small and medium size businesses, as well as on job creators like 3M. The Liberals want to increase the costs to do business in Canada and kill hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process.

While the Liberals and their leader want to increase taxes and kill jobs, our government remains committed to lower taxes and more opportunities, of that Canadians can be certain.

Laurent Coderre
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Bernard Patry Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, Laurent Coderre is an artist who paints and draws, but his is not a household name in Canada. However, this Quebecker is well known in London, Venice, Krakow, Los Angeles, Sydney and Zagreb, where he has earned an impressive series of prestigious distinctions and awards.

Laurent Coderre associated with such iconic Canadian painters as the Group of Seven's Varley and Jackson. What is more, this multi-talented artist caught the eye of Canadian film-maker Norman McLaren, who decided to have Coderre join the animation department of the NFB.

On November 5, the entire artistic community of Montreal and Quebec came together to pay well-deserved tribute to Mr. Coderre with the launch of the book entitled, Laurent Coderre: artiste peintre-dessinateur, written by Claude Sauvage and published by Marcel Broquet.

On behalf of all Canadians, I want to thank Laurent Coderre for his rich contribution to our society's culture and arts.

Veterans Affairs
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week was Veterans Week and it was with great pride that I took part in Remembrance Day ceremonies throughout my riding.

As a retired member of the Canadian army with 20 years of service, it was an honour for me to attend these ceremonies in uniform to honour the fallen and show my support for the men and women who are serving and those who have served our country with loyalty and courage.

During that week I had many occasions to talk and listen to our vets. I have assured them of our government's commitment to providing services that meet their needs and those of their families.

Veterans were asking for better support for seriously injured soldiers and their families, and we established the legacy of care fund.

Veterans were asking for extended benefits to better protect their family members, and we increased the benefits to make more family members eligible.

Finally, veterans were asking for changes to the veterans charter, and yesterday we announced changes to ensure our veterans receive the care, services and financial support they need and deserve.

We are on the side of our veterans.

Poverty in Canada
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Meili Faille Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, an increasing number of Quebeckers and Canadians are going hungry. According to Food Banks Canada, last year more than 80,000 people walked into a food bank for the first time, which represents an increase of 9.2%. The most shocking statistic is that 38% of food bank clients are children. This is disturbing news that comes two days before Universal Children's Day.

The Conservatives can go ahead and boast about their economic action plan, but according to the executive director of Food Banks Canada:

...the recession is not over for a large number of Canadians. ... Many people who lost their jobs during the recession have now exhausted their unemployment benefits....

By rejecting many of the Bloc Québécois bills that would provide real help to affected workers, the Conservatives have chosen to put on rose-coloured glasses and spend almost $858 million on the G8 and G20, including $20,776 for an ice sculpture. The government's sense of priorities is evident.

Member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, while he was public safety minister in Quebec, the member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin brought in legislation to force police officers to report misconduct by their fellow officers. Yet 14 years later, when he cross-examined former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney before a parliamentary committee, here in Ottawa, the member said:

What intrigues me is that it took you so long to realize that you had made such an error in judgment.

To get to the bottom of this error in judgment by the member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, we will be presenting a motion on Monday, in the ethics committee, to give him the opportunity to come explain himself in full transparency.