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House of Commons Hansard #26 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was illness.

Topics

Suicide PreventionOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, all suicides are a tragedy for our families, and we want to prevent this from happening to our soldiers and our veterans. This is a very serious concern. We have doubled our support in this regard, but we are always prepared to look at how we can improve our performance.

Suicide PreventionOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

In the same vein, Mr. Speaker, we have the situation affecting the other large group of Canadians for whom the federal government has a very clear constitutional responsibility and that of course is the aboriginal population of the country.

The rate of suicide among young aboriginals has skyrocketed. It is high right across the board in community after community. We cannot take any pride in what is taking place. Clear action does have to be taken.

I would like to again ask the Prime Minister. Could he please take us through the measures which the government plans to take to ensure that we are leading the way in this question and not falling--

Suicide PreventionOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Suicide PreventionOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am reluctant to speak for a minister on this but I can certainly inform the House that we are well aware of this fact. That is why we do have programs that specifically look at this phenomenon in aboriginal communities and try to decide how to deal with it. Obviously, this is a complex phenomenon.

One of the things we want to do besides tackling that program directly is to ensure that we create hope and opportunity in those communities. In many parts of the country where those communities are located there is unprecedented economic opportunity and we want to ensure young aboriginal people participate in those opportunities.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, while the Minister of National Defence was jetting around in the Challenger, the Prime Minister was keeping him out of the loop on Afghanistan.

When asked if he and the Prime Minister discussed the idea of a blue ribbon panel on the war, the minister said it was not put before cabinet and admitted, “I didn't know all of the specifics”. Canadians are being asked to swallow a lot from the minister, from his jet-setting lifestyle to his judgment on over-priced fighter jets.

How can Canadians trust the minister when the Prime Minister does not even trust him with important decisions?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the overblown rhetoric, the hyperventilating from the member opposite takes away from many of the serious issues that we do discuss. These are issues like suicide and issues that relate directly to the mission in Afghanistan.

I give him great assurance that this government takes those issues very seriously and we take the issue of public finance very seriously. We make the investments that are necessary in giving the men and women of our search and rescue the proper equipment. We will continue to act in a fiscally prudent and responsible way. I would give the member the opportunity to do the same.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I still have to come back to the disconnect between the Prime Minister and his own Minister of National Defence.

Particularly on Afghanistan, reacting to the Prime Minister's 2008 announcement that all troops would be out of Afghanistan by 2011, this minister said to a journalist, and I quote: “I don't know. I heard it the same time you heard it”.

How is it that our defence minister heard about a major change in military policy through the media? How are Canadians supposed to put their trust in him when even the Prime Minister does not?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, 2008 was quite a while ago. I am surprised the member is just hearing about this now. We have, of course, extended the mission in Afghanistan and transformed it to the important training mission.

I was in Washington on Friday meeting with the secretary of defence to discuss the important role that Canada is playing there and the important contributions that Canada is making to world peace and security. We have seen that in Libya with the leadership of Lieutenant General Charlie Bouchard and as we are seeing now in Kabul and those training bases in the north of the country. These are important contributions of which all Canadians can be extremely proud.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister does not trust his own Minister of National Defence. He did not update the minister on important decisions being made about the war in Afghanistan. Yesterday, we learned that he kept the minister in the dark about the mission.

How can Canadians trust the Minister of National Defence when the Prime Minister himself does not trust him?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, the government, the Prime Minister, the cabinet and I always work closely together towards a common goal, be it in Afghanistan, in Libya or in other places around the world. This co-operation is necessary. I hope that she has the same kind of co-operation from the NDP leadership.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence says that he was not kept in the loop about all of the details of the Afghan mission.

In the book titled The Savage War, the minister talks about the decision to strike a committee concerning the mission. He said, “It wasn't discussed with the broader cabinet, no.” And he added, “I didn't know all of the specifics.”

How can Canadians trust this government? How can they trust a minister who is kept in the dark by his Prime Minister?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, to that I would simply say that Canadians must have had some level of trust because in May of this year they re-elected this government with a majority, national Conservative government.

It is the important decisions with respect to Afghanistan, Libya, our contributions in 16 missions internationally, our various government departments, including CIDA and the Department of Foreign Affairs, that we continue to make Canadians very proud of the efforts that Canadians, in both the armed forces and our professional service, are making around the globe.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is a majority of 39%.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs tabled documents in the House of Commons regarding the transfer of Afghan detainees without having them translated. This is in violation of the Official Languages Act.

However, this government refuses to look into why the minister violated the act. His attitude is disrespectful to francophone and anglophone Canadians who want to understand what is happening in Parliament in their own language.

Will the Conservatives finally respect the Official Languages Act and have the documents translated, as provided for in the act?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, yes, I tabled the documents in the House. Before I tabled these documents in the language that the judges used to send them to the government, I asked all of the NDP members whether they were in favour of having them tabled, and all of the NDP members said yes.

National DefenceOral Questions

October 4th, 2011 / 2:30 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, CBC revealed that the cost of the F-35s could double by the time they are delivered. Rather than the $65 million that this government initially told us that each plane would cost, they could cost over $133 million each.

Why is this government the only one that believes Lockheed Martin's initial cost estimates? Why does this government not see the obvious? The replacement of the CF-18s requires an open and transparent competition.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, our government has been very clear. We have dedicated $9 billion to this important acquisition of F-35s.

These aircraft, as the House will know, will replace our aging CF-18 fleet of fighter jets. These aircraft, like other aircraft, have served our country extremely well. They are used in Libya today. They have been used in previous missions, but that they aging.

As a matter of course we are taking the responsible step of following a procurement process that has been in place for a significant period of time in which a number of countries are participating.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the costs related to the F-35s continue to rise, the Associate Minister of National Defence and the Minister of National Defence claim that the F-35s and their long-term maintenance will cost $9 billion rather than $16 billion. While every other country that wants to buy F-35s expects to pay a lot more, this government is the only one that thinks that it can get them for a low price.

Will this government stop trying to mislead the public and tell people the truth: that the F-35s are not going to cost $9 billion or even $16 billion but $30 billion?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we have been crystal clear. We committed $9 billion for the replacement of the CF-18. In fact, it not only includes the cost of the aircraft, this will include: spares, weapons systems, infrastructure and training simulators as well as the contingency associated with this important procurement.

We are purchasing the most cost-effective variant at the prime of peak production when the costs will be at their lowest. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer has admitted to that.

Why are the NDP members constantly against getting the best equipment for the best forces in the world?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government continues to pour money down the black hole of the F-35 program. That is despite multiple delays, multiple setbacks and massive cost overruns predicted, not only by our Parliamentary Budget Officer, but even by the Pentagon .

The out-of-touch government would rather blow billions of dollars than admit it has made a mistake.

We know the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence do not talk, but is the Prime Minister aware that the F-35 jets are an unaffordable sinkhole?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I know the member is new to the file and new to the House. I will repeat for him, $9 billion have been set aside for this project. We will be receiving these aircraft some time after 2016. This is a result of a pressing need to replace the current CF-18 jets.

This is the best aircraft, the only aircraft, which is fifth generation, available to the Canadian Forces. This recommendation comes from the Chief of the Air Staff. All of the experts agree, this is the best aircraft for the best country for the best forces.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have submarines rusting in dry dock. We have helicopters being raided for spare parts. Yet, Conservatives insist on writing a blank cheque to the U.S. military. Even John McCain calls the F-35 program “a train wreck”.

Other governments are reducing their F-35 orders, switching to other fighter jets or investing in equipment they already have, so why are the Conservatives taking a flyer on the F-35s, even when they are in a tailspin?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, so much of what that member just said is completely off base. So much of it is completely disconnected to what the needs of the men and women of the Canadian Forces have clearly expressed. So much of it is against our national defence interests, but I am not the least bit surprised.

Consistently in this House, consistently throughout our history, we have seen the New Democratic Party oppose every step that we take to improve the life, the training, the work of the Canadian Forces. That has been its consistent position.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, from the chief coroner's reports to pleas from the chief and Grand Chief Beardy, the suicides in Pikangikum First Nation, 60 in the last decade and 5 this summer alone, have become a tragedy of national proportion.

The chief coroner had 100 recommendations.

What exactly will the Minister of Health declare that she will do today to deal with this unbelievable tragedy before one more life is lost?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, our government has made the investment in programs to support initiatives under the national aboriginal youth suicide prevention program. To date, we funded over 150 community-based projects with the investments that we have made in budget 2010. This is an area that is of concern to us, as far too many Canadian families have to deal with the anguish, but we are acting on the recommendations through the national aboriginal youth suicide program.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, in Nunavik, the suicide rate is 25 times higher than the Quebec average, which is already the highest in the country. Earlier this year, two young people committed suicide in less than two months in Kuujjuaq, a community of less than 2,200 people. No government is doing enough to address the issue of suicide.

What does this government plan to do to improve support and health services in the community?