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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.

Topics

Opposition Motion—National DefenceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc 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 advance...to 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 CancerStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder Conservative 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 BraveryStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal 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 NewspaperStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Vincent Bloc 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.

HealthStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP 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.

TaxationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative 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 CoderreStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal 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 AffairsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Conservative 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 CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Bloc 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-FortinStatements By Members

November 18th, 2010 / 2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative 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.

VeteransStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, last week I had the honour of attending the national Remembrance Day ceremony with my uncle, a veteran of the second world war, Sapper René Garand. My uncle joined the Canadian army in 1941. He served as a gunner throughout Europe until the end of the war.

My uncle shared with me a horrific story of when his unit, the 14th Armoured Canadian Regiment of Calgary, was ambushed in Italy in 1943. The four tanks ahead of his had been bombed and were burning. He was in the fifth tank, which was also hit. Due to the courageous efforts of his comrades and his own, they were able to save their own lives and the lives of many other Canadians.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our veterans and current members of the Canadian Forces for their courageous dedication and sacrifice in protecting our country.

I would also like to thank my uncle René, who is well loved by our entire family.

I stand with my colleagues in this House in saying, “Lest we forget”.

Leader of the Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, it has been five days now since the Liberal leader insinuated that the candidacy of Julie Javier in Winnipeg North was nothing more than a game to steal votes from the Liberal candidate because of her Filipino heritage, yet the Liberal leader still has not apologized for his insulting and offensive comments. In fact, he is now saying that it was not what he meant.

That is hard to believe, given that his Liberal candidate, Kevin Lamoureux, pushed the original story out on his Twitter account and on his website. If he did not believe the story to be true, why would he push it out for all to see? It is simple. He believed it. He does believe that her candidacy is a game.

Let me be clear. Julie Javier's candidacy is no game. She is the only candidate who will get tough on crime. She is the only candidate who will protect the important jobs at Bristol, and she is the only candidate who can give Winnipeg North a voice--

Leader of the Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie.

PovertyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is a good day for Canada, for parliamentarians and for people across this country struggling with poverty. Yesterday a landmark report was tabled from a three-year study that offers us a master plan to eliminate poverty.

We have anywhere from three million to four million poor. This plan is good news for our vulnerable populations: aboriginals, seniors alone without support, persons with disabilities, children, working poor and immigrants. Thanks to hundreds of witnesses, we have the foundation for a just and inclusive country.

Seven provinces and territories and a chorus of Canadians want Ottawa to lead. A federal strategy to eliminate poverty in Canada is all about nation-building. Together we can recognize that a national poverty elimination strategy is the right thing to do. The evidence indicates that it is also the smart and economic thing to do. It is time to act.

Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, when will the NDP public safety critic stop manipulating the agenda of the committee for his own political objectives?

Yesterday, in a rare break from the opposition coalition agenda, the committee heard from the Minister of Public Safety and officials from his department on our important legislation that would prohibit sex offenders who prey upon children the right to ever get a pardon. Instead of allowing the committee to hear from the technical experts on this important piece of legislation, the member for Vancouver Kingsway spent a quarter of the committee's time playing partisan political games.

Canadians expect the opposition to give legislation due time and consideration and not hijack these meetings for partisan gain. This is legislation that law-abiding Canadians, victims and law enforcement have all told us is important, timely and necessary.

For us, the choice is clear. Keeping our communities, streets and families safe from crime is the priority and should be the committee's priority. I call upon the member for Vancouver Kingsway and his coalition partners to make it their priority.

Universal Children's DayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Johanne Deschamps Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, November 20 is Universal Children's Day, which marks the signing of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

Although it signed these agreements, this Conservative government has reneged on its commitments numerous times. It capped development funding in its 2010 budget, breaking its promise to invest 0.7% of its GDP in order to achieve the millennium development goals, six of which concern children. As well, in 2009, the Conservatives abandoned Africa by amending the list of priority countries receiving international aid, which affected some of the poorest populations. Children will lose the most.

This Conservative government has also violated the rights of child soldier Omar Khadr, creating a dangerous precedent.

Reneging on commitments like this is simply shameful. When the Conservatives were denied a seat on the UN Security Council, they got proof that the international community will not stand for their flippant behaviour.

Leader of the Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, today the Winnipeg Free Press admitted that it made a mistake in an editorial and a headline by making a false accusation about the Leader of the Opposition.

It is now perfectly clear that our leader was not playing political games. He called for a straight-up fight and a clear choice for the voters of Winnipeg North, and spoke only about Kevin Lamoureux, who brings to this byelection 18 years of commitment to his constituents.

However, that did not stop the Conservative Party from ramping up a campaign of misinformation based on these false headlines. Through statements in this House and emails from government MPs, the Conservatives yet again spread myth as if it were fact.

The government's conduct in this matter is calculated to divide communities based on a falsehood. It should be ashamed of itself. Now that the record has been corrected, it has an obligation to do the honourable thing and apologize to the people of Winnipeg North and to Canadians, who deserve better from their government. Anything less would be dishonourable.

Democratic ReformStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Conservative South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the course of his tirade yesterday, the NDP leader bemoaned the length of terms in the Senate. He told Canadians that they should worry because senators are appointed for “one heck of a long time”. We understand those were hollow words when he directed his procedural henchmen to plot a strategy to kill our Conservative government's Senate term limits bill, a bill that would solve the problem he claimed to be worried about. As the member for Hamilton Centre admitted, it was done as a retaliation.

Canadians expect better. Unlike the NDP leader who tells Canadians one thing and does something else in the House of Commons, Conservatives have been consistent and clear since 2006. We support reforming the upper house, including limiting senators to a single term of eight years.

Banting Homestead Heritage ParkStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Independent

Helena Guergis Independent Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, on November 14, World Diabetes Day and Sir Frederick Banting's birthday were celebrated for the first time at the birthplace of Dr. Banting in my riding of Simcoe—Grey. Members of the Banting family, the community and the Sir Frederick Banting Legacy Foundation celebrated in the newly restored octagonal drive shed at the Banting Homestead Heritage Park. In 2008, the Town of New Tecumseth purchased the homestead, and in 2009 I secured Banting's designation as a person of historical significance.

With the world watching, Canadians have the opportunity to help this $9 million fundraising project that includes the restoration of the farm house, construction of a heritage exhibit building, a diabetes outreach and learning clinic, support for research, and the creation of a new Banting legacy chair in pediatric diabetes research.

I encourage the government to support the preservation of his birthplace, this international landmark, to honour the legacy of a Canadian medical giant whose discovery of insulin has saved billions of lives worldwide.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence continues to vent publicly, and rightly so, about the foolish, clumsy bungling of international airport landing rights in Canada.

That mismanagement with respect to the United Arab Emirates has badly damaged Canadian relations with what should be a valued ally in the struggle against terrorism.

Will the government House leader now admit that he was wrong on this matter, so much so that the defence minister is still fuming about it a month later and talking with Bay Street lawyers about leaving the government?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, it will come as no surprise to my friend from Wascana that I do not share much of the opinion that he has expressed, and it is opinion, not fact.

At cabinet, the Government of Canada has an important responsibility to stand up and do what is best for Canada, and that is exactly what we did in this regard.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, because of the wrong-headed advice given by the government House leader, the defence minister was cut out of the loop on airport landing rights, an ally against al-Qaeda was insulted, Canada was evicted from the Camp Mirage staging base, Canadian taxpayers are now stuck with some multiple of $300 million in totally wasted costs and Canada lost votes for the UN Security Council.

Does the government House leader now understand why the defence minister parades about in a “Fly Emirates” hat and negotiates with a law firm for a new job?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, those of us on this side of the House who have the privilege to serve in government have an important responsibility to the people of Canada: to stand up and do what is best for Canada and what is best for Canadians.

The deal that was in front of us was not of net benefit to Canada, which is why we could not sign on.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the defence minister thought otherwise.

The defence minister said that it will take 10 years to fix the damage done by the government House leader to Canada's relations with the UAE. Ten years is how long Canada will have to wait to get another shot at the UN Security Council if the UAE calms down. Ten years is how long this country will labour under new debt caused by Conservative bungling like the Camp Mirage fiasco.

Why will the reckless minister not just admit to a very stupid mistake?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, why is it that every time Canada gets into a disagreement with another country the Liberal Party of Canada rushes to the microphones as quickly as possible and stands up to defend the other country? Why does the Liberal Party not stand up and support Canada? Why does it not stand up and do what is best for Canada?