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House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was labour.

Topics

Canada-Panama Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

7 p.m.

Independent

Helena Guergis Independent Simcoe—Grey, ON

Once again, Madam Speaker, I vote no.

Canada-Panama Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2011 / 7 p.m.

Independent

André Arthur Independent Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Madam Speaker, I vote no.

(The House divided on Motion No. 4, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #160

Canada-Panama Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

7 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I declare Motion No. 4 lost.

Canada-Panama Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeMinister of International Trade

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Canada-Panama Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada-Panama Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Canada-Panama Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canada-Panama Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canada-Panama Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada-Panama Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada-Panama Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #161

Canada-Panama Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

7:10 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I declare the motion carried.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

7:10 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, last summer in Toronto at the G20 summit, Canadians were shocked to see the largest mass arrests in our nation's history. They were deeply disturbed by the multiple and repeat violations of our most cherished democratic and constitutional rights. Eleven hundred Canadians were arrested without charges being laid or had their charges subsequently dropped.

New Democrats immediately went to work to get answers for the questions Canadians were asking: How could this happen in a country like Canada? Who is responsible? How do we ensure this could never happen again?

New Democrats were successful in getting the public safety committee to launch a parliamentary inquiry into the many issues surrounding security at the G8 and G20 summits. New Democrats helped secure five days of hearings, comprised of ten hours of testimony from twenty-three individuals, and these hearings revealed some very startling new information.

It was thanks to these hearings that we learned from Toronto Police chief, Bill Blair, that 90 Toronto police officers had covered or removed their name badges while policing the G20 summit, in direct violation of a policy set personally by Chief Blair.

We heard shocking testimony from TV Ontario news anchor, Steve Paikin, about the mistreatment of journalists who were covering protests at the summit. Journalists assembled in a public place on the streets of Toronto were told they had to leave or they would be arrested. One journalist was the victim of unprovoked police brutality when he had the audacity to assert his right to freely assemble in public and cover public events.

The committee heard graphic testimony about the conditions in detention from four students who were arrested at the University of Toronto gymnasium. We heard about the abusive, sexist, derogatory and violent taunts aimed at individuals in detention, language so shocking that I am not permitted to repeat it in the House but anyone can view the committee transcripts and see what I mean.

We heard that individuals were kept 20 people to a cage, were not given sufficient amounts of food or water, were denied access to medicine and were forced to toilet themselves in porta-potties with no doors in front of police and fellow detainees of both genders.

The committee was presented with conclusive evidence that the right to peacefully assemble in public, the right to be informed of the charges against oneself upon arrest, the right to contact a lawyer and the rights of free press and free speech were all systematically violated during the G20 summit in Toronto.

The work of New Democrats in securing these hearings was crucial in obtaining this information and getting it on the public record. However, parliamentary committee hearings are not sufficient to get the necessary answers to the very serious questions that remain.

The committee hearings are limited to five and seven minute rounds of questions, which is not sufficient time to properly question a witness. Parliamentary committees do not hear evidence given under sworn oath in general. Parliamentary committees have limited power to subpoena documents and witnesses. The committee hearings are marked by partisanship when a more judicious approach is needed to get at the truth.

Despite the hours of hearings and the pages of testimony, key questions remain unanswered. Who is responsible for the mass rights violations? Who made the decisions on the ground that led to them?

Ultimately, Canadians want the government, their government, to be accountable for the events that took place on its watch. It was the Conservative government's summit and it spent $1 billion of taxpayer money running it. The Conservative government planned and executed the security.

The government owes the Canadian people some answers and only a full judicial inquiry will get those answers. Will the government launch a public inquiry into the rights violations that occurred at the G20 summit in Toronto?

7:15 p.m.

Oxford Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Madam Speaker, it is a fact that international events, such as the G8 and G20 summits that engage the participation of a large number of world leaders, routinely draw large numbers of protesters. Some protesters are determined to undermine the agenda of these meetings, destroy public and private property and carry out various acts of senseless violence. In fact, they plan to do so on a premeditated basis, planning and evolving techniques to cause as much disorder as they are capable of.

The international community has witnessed this trend over a decade now, starting with the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in 1999. Similar acts of civil disobedience are not restricted to countries halfway around the world. Canada witnessed this first-hand in Quebec City in 2001. As a government, we were committed to ensuring this type of activity was kept to a minimum.

When international events, such as the G8 and G20 summits, are held in Canada, the RCMP works in partnership with police and security partners through the Integrated Security Unit. The goal is to provide a safe environment for the participants and visitors, as well as the general public.

The RCMP takes particular care to ensure the fundamental freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are respected. The provision of security for the summits was no small undertaking and required the largest, most complex peacetime security operation in Canada's history to protect Canadian residents, as well as guests and leaders from around the world.

Throughout the preparation, delivery and closing phases of the summits, this government has demonstrated that it takes security, transparency and accountability seriously. The government provided the necessary resources to ensure the summits could proceed in a safe and secure manner. To be as transparent as possible with security preparations, policing and security agencies worked closely with members of the community to keep them aware of security developments. This approach led directly to the summits being deemed a success by participants and by this government.

Although the summits were a large undertaking that required significant security requirements, the government remains committed to ensuring public trust and accountability. In fact, each of the participating Integrated Security Unit partners has existing police oversight mechanisms in place to receive and assess public complaints should members of the public wished to make a complaint about police response during the summits.

7:20 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, the 1,000 people who had their rights violated did not consider the summit a success.

The government likes to talk about law and order. The fact is the rule of law was abandoned in Toronto last summer and replaced with arbitrary and illegal acts by security forces that someone must be accountable for. The government claims to be tough on crime. Crimes were committed at the G20 summit, including by agents of the state and of the government. We know this because some charges have already been laid.

The government planned and funded an event that resulted in unprecedented violations of Canadians' most basic and fundamental rights: freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, the right to retain counsel and the right not to be arrested without proper cause, the right to security of person and property and freedom from unwarranted search and seizure. I hear laughing on the government side when I recite these facts.

Instead of stonewalling, why will the government not recognize the massive violations of these rights that occurred on its watch and call a public inquiry to get to the bottom of it if it has nothing to worry about?

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Madam Speaker, the government is committed to ensuring that the rights of Canadians, as guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, are protected. For this reason, the government allocated the required resources to protect Canadians and visitors to this country from those who would break Canadian laws and disrupt our society through violent actions.

The massive security operation that was involved in the G8 and G20 summits was designed to protect the internationally protected persons participating in the summits, residents of this country and the guests who came to peacefully participate in the summits. The security operation involved a large amount of resources to achieve these goals and was in fact highly successful.

There are existing mechanisms in place to handle public complaints and provide an oversight function for every police force that participated in the Integrated Security Unit. These oversight bodies exist to perform the oversight function that ensures police are accountable to the citizens of their respective jurisdiction.

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Madam Speaker, I had asked a question with regard to the procurement of the F-35s.

Very clearly, as a former parliamentary secretary to the minister of finance, I know how difficult it is when the government is in a deficit situation. For the current government, it is $56 billion and it wants to spend $9 billion, with a total package of probably $16 billion on the F-35s.

I want to make it very clear that we support new aircraft for the military. The issue is how this is being brought about.

I want to quote the treasury board guidelines that say competition remains the cornerstone of the Canadian government procurement process, that it is the most efficient way of achieving both goals of procurement and gives suppliers the incentive to bring forward their best solution at a competitive price.

The issue is the government has decided to sole-source this contract. It has done it in a way in which the minister, prior to his announcement in July, during the summer when the House was not sitting, indicated that there would be a competitive process. The government claims that there has been a process, that it has been competitive and we should not worry. We should just be happy.

In fact, we know the cost of this aircraft, which was about $50 million, is now up to about $92 million. It has been delayed and delayed. There was a recent delay in January with regard to this. The head of the air force in the United States announced it.

When we have a competitive procurement program, which would allow various individual companies to come forward, why has the government decided to do a sole-source contract?

At the defence committee, we had various companies come forward. They all indicated that they would be prepared to bid. The problem is the government has decided, for whatever reason, to ignore the guidelines that have served many governments, both Liberal and Conservative, over the years, and simply has decided to do this as a sole-source contract.

I know my friend across the way will say that this is the best air craft that money can buy. The problem is the metre is still running. We do not really know how much this will cost. We also do not have guaranteed economic benefits across the country. That is another issue in terms of the spinoffs that we will have. Normally we would have those benefits laid out. Again, this is a concern.

Lockheed Martin has indicated that it will be able to do this, but, again, the price has been going up and it is continuing to go up.

Given these guidelines, why ignore what has been a time-honoured tradition, best value for the taxpayer? Given the deficit we have today, we can afford no less than the best aircraft at the best possible price.

There is no contract to tear up because there is no contract. We are not interested in any of that nonsense. We are interested in an open competition. If it turns out that the F-35 is the best aircraft, fine. However, without that competition, it is very hard to determine that.

What I heard before the defence committee was that there were others in the marketplace that were quite prepared to come forward.

It is the issue of this. If the government decides to bypass the procurement process on one of the largest military procurements in our history, what other things will it sole-source? What else will it bypass?

Why have procedures in place if the government is prepared to ignore them? To me, that is not best value for the taxpayer. The taxpayers obviously want to ensure they get that value and they cannot get it if it is all shrouded in secrecy and government tells them to trust it, that this is what it will go with and that it best meets the best needs of the military.

There is no question that I want the best for the Canadian air force. I just want to ensure that the process is followed.

7:25 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Madam Speaker, I agree with my colleague 100%. We absolutely have to get the best aircraft for the best price for the Canadian men and women who will be put in harm's way for the next 30, 40 or 50 years. That is exactly what we are doing.

I want to thank him again for his question because it gives me a chance to clarify some of the misconceptions that have been put out there. The government is indeed committed to finding the best value for Canadian taxpayers' dollars in the case of our decision to purchase 65 F-35 Lightning II strike fighters. That is exactly what we are doing. We are following the most cost-effective option and it does follow Treasury Board guidelines. To say that it does not is just simply false.

Canada joined the multinational joint strike fighter partnership back in 1997 under the Liberals and conducted a competitive process to select what would become the JSF, the only fifth generation fighter aircraft available to Canada and the rest of the western world with the exception of the United States.

The whole point of the joint strike fighter program is to develop a cutting edge adaptable, sustainable, multi-role aircraft for the 21st century that permits full interoperability with our allies and friends, and benefits from economies of scale inherent in a project that foresees the production of nearly 5,000 aircraft over a 40-year span.

Indeed, experts from within the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces did conduct extensive evaluations of the leading fighter aircraft, analyzed data provided by industry, and through government-to-government channels, and undertook lengthy consultations with manufacturers.

Of course, someone will come before the defence committee to say that they can do that. However, they are not the ones making the decisions. The decisions and the advice needs to be taken from the experts who have extensive experience and expertise in this because they have no agenda other than to get the Canadian Forces the best aircraft possible at the best price.

The conclusion was that only the F-35 meets all the mandatory criteria in the statement of operational requirements and these experts then recommended to the government that it acquire the F-35 joint strike fighter. It is the government's confidence in the expertise and experience of these military and civilian officials and their recommendations that has led to its choice of a procurement process.

To hold a second competitive process to select Canada's next generation fighter, as critics have called for, would waste time and money, and needlessly delay the replacement of our aging fleet of CF-18s, which will reach the end of their service life by 2020.

However, more fundamentally, such a competition would be a farce as we cannot hold a competition when there is only one viable competitor. To persist in holding such a lopsided competition would be to select the very aircraft that we already know is the only one that meets the air force's requirements. We would lose our place in the production schedule and to lose out on the lucrative economic opportunities for Canadian industry contained within the industrial participation plans signed among the JSF partner nations and Lockheed Martin.

Purchasing the F-35 through a competitive bidding process with an attached industrial regional benefits package, as the opposition has been demanding, would mean purchasing the aircraft outside the joint strike fighter memorandum of understanding that Canada signed onto in 2006. We get special privileges inside that MOU, not the least of which allows us to purchase the F-35 without having to pay foreign military sales fees or research and development recoupment costs that are built into the price for non-partner nations, such as Israel. These cost waivers amount to savings of $850 million to $900 million off the purchase price of our 65 aircraft.

Not only that, but those industrial participation plans that permit Canadian companies to bid on contracts for the full F-35 global supply chain would be immediately suspended with a decision to hold a competition as these plans are conditional on Canada purchasing the F-35 through the MOU.

Canada's world-class aerospace companies have already won $350 million in contracts. That is even before full production has begun. Based on this success, estimates suggest that Canadian companies could win up to $12 billion in contracts for production, sustainment, and follow-on development of the F-35 over the 40-year duration of the project.

The Canadian industry rightly sees the long-term benefits of this novel procurement process. By participating in such huge international projects, the government can help to stimulate and strengthen Canadian aerospace and defence companies to bid on and win major contracts worldwide.

The choice facing this government in this process is a no-brainer: proceed with the purchase under the best process--

7:30 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. I must interrupt the hon. member.

The hon. member for Richmond Hill.

7:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Madam Speaker, the member talks about misconceptions; I talk about ill-conceived.

Here we have a situation where we do not have transparency or accountability for the Canadian taxpayer. We do not even know how much per aircraft this will cost because again the meter is running. It is costing more and more every day. This has certainly been seen in the United States. I would think that it is prudent for us to take a close look at this again.

The member indicates that people, of course, will come to the committee and say that they can sell us whatever it is and not to worry. The reality is that I do not think that some of the major firms that came before us would have said that they can do what it is we are looking for if, in fact, they could not deliver. They made it very clear that they can.

Obviously, Lockheed Martin has sold the government a nice bill of goods. It said there is no problem at all, but by the way do not worry about the cost as it goes up. As I have said, from $50 million per unit now we are up to about $92 million, and again it continues.

In a deficit situation, we need openness, transparency, and the government has not shown that in this case.

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, the hon. member is not telling the truth about the price of the airplane. He is taking U.S. costs for U.S. aircraft. He is not talking about our program.

We are not writing a cheque for $16 billion tomorrow. We are spreading the $9 billion cost of the aircraft over seven years, a cost that includes simulators, infrastructure, training, and so on, a lot of which comes back to Canadian industry. Starting in 2015, the sustainment cost of the airplane will be spread over 20 years. We are not writing a cheque for $16 billion tomorrow: this is spread out over a very long period of time.

The simple fact is that we have had 10 highly advanced countries look at the same challenge and every single one has come up with the same answer: the F-35. That is not a coincidence.

We have experts here whom we should trust. These are the people with no agenda. Every company has an agenda. That is a given, and somebody will come to us and say they can do whatever. Of course they are going to say that. That is why we hire people with the expertise and the experience to give us the advice and the answer.

Back in the CF-18 days, the program I was involved in, we had the same people saying the same kinds of things. At least in those days the Liberals came to their senses and supported the program. I wish the Liberals today had the same common sense.

7:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I am happy to rise in the House, as there is an impending issue in regard to my question for the Minister of the Environment.

We have a new minister now, but this has been a recurring issue, at least for me, since 2004. For the people who reside around Terra Nova National Park, it has been an issue going back decades, even half a century.

I do want to follow-up on my question some time ago about Highway 301 and Highway 310. I will get to that shortly, but right now as we speak, there is an issue that is brewing in the park that we need to discuss. I hope the minister is available to provide some answers on that and to get some input.

I have always thought of the town of Charlottetown, which exists around Terra Nova National Park, as the town that is pinned in by the park and its rules and regulations. Now I am biased and think that the Terra Nova National Park has some of the greatest scenery in the world, but for many of the residents who live near this park, what some would consider a right or freedom has been quashed.

Time and time again the government has said “no we cannot”. It would seem that every time I write a letter or approach the ministry, I get stonewalled on this issue. It just does not want to get involved at all, which brings us to February 13.

On February 13, residents of the town of Charlottetown will stage a protest. Here is what they want, and I think they are right in demanding it.

Snowmobiling now is an incredibly large activity within the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is an economic generator, as well as a right for everybody to go among the trails. However, the people of Charlottetown cannot traverse the park at all to get to the main trailway that we have invested millions of dollars in grooming and in upkeep for the residents and tourists. They are not asking for free-for-all snowmobiling throughout the whole park; they are asking for an access route to the main trailway. It is an access route to get the people of this town among the general population out for snowmobiling. This is not a lot to ask. It is a trail that they know themselves; they have mapped it out.

This coming weekend they are going to make a strong statement to say that they feel they are not being listened to, and they are not. They should be given attention and should be given a fair hearing.

Also, residents within this area, not just of Charlottetown but also of the Eastport Peninsula and the town of Terra Nova, would like to have some pavement, but I will get to that a little later.

On the snowmobiling issue, there are other privileges, rights really, that other people throughout the province enjoy that they cannot enjoy because of where they are.

Let us keep in mind who came along first. Was it the park? No, the people and their ancestors did. Their ancestors, dating back many generations, have invested in this area. It was where they brought up their children and now where their great-great-great-grandchildren are growing up.

The park came in and imposed restrictions that I believe are unfair. Again, they are not asking to snowmobile throughout the park as some sort of free-for-all recreational activity. Rather, these people are asking for an access route.

Would the minister please rise and help us address this important issue for the people of Charlottetown?