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House of Commons Hansard #19 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was detention.

Topics

PensionsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we have worked hard to increase retirement security for Canadians. For example, we cut taxes for seniors and pensioners by more than $2 billion, notably by allowing pension income splitting. We have worked with the provinces to look at proposals for other improvements and, as I said earlier, we are about to implement the pooled registered pension plan. The PRPP system will provide low-cost pension plans to millions of people who do not have a pension.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the past few months have brought us the protectionist buy American legislation, an economic downturn this quarter and a rising unemployment rate. Instead of helping Canadians by creating jobs, the Conservatives are using the situation as an excuse to cut and eliminate vital programs and services. Making cuts in a time of economic downturn only exacerbates the problem.

Will the government show some flexibility and put those cuts on hold until the economy is in a better position?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, our government cares about what matters most: the economy and jobs. Canada's current economic growth is proof that we are on the right track for Canadian families. Both the IMF and the OECD agree that Canada will have one of the fastest growing economies in the G7. In addition, Moody's has just renewed Canada's AAA credit rating because of our economic resiliency, financial strength and low susceptibility to event risk.

Search and RescueOral Questions

September 23rd, 2011 / 11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, whether it is a tony royal gazebo, fake lakes, G20 spending or now fishing trips on search and rescue aircraft, the government's ministers think taxpayers' money is their personal reserve. No one is buying the defence minister's excuse that his lift from a fishing camp was a preplanned training demo. Training demonstrations are day-long exercises.

Could the minister confirm that his office overrode the local base, which initially denied his demand for vital rescue equipment to give him a lift to the airport?

Search and RescueOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, I was on a trip to the beautiful province of Newfoundland and Labrador, a trip I paid for myself. As a result of pressing government business, I was called back from that vacation. I left the vacation early to come back to work.

As the member might know, the government has reduced the use of government aircraft by over 80%. We take the use of government aircraft very seriously. It is used for government business. That is the line we will follow.

Search and RescueOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about tourism here. We are talking about accountability and responsibility on the part of ministers and the spending of taxpayers' money. This minister's story is falling apart. We know he could not have been scheduled to participate in a training mission because he knew he had to be in London, Ontario, for an announcement.

This is arrogant, high-flying abuse of life-saving equipment, plain and simple.

Can the minister table one email, one piece of paper, one piece of correspondence to back up his cockamamie story about a preplanned demonstration, or will he just fess up, apologize and--

Search and RescueOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please.

The hon. Minister of National Defence.

Search and RescueOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I said, I came back to work as a result of government business. With respect, our government has reduced the use of government aircraft by 80% in the past three years. As the hon. member knows, aircraft are used for government business.

With respect to the member himself, I am surprised that he would raise the issue of helicopters, given that his government cost taxpayers $1 billion by cancelling the EH-101 program, when it came to the Sea King helicopter replacement.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today Canadians learned that our military trainers in Afghanistan were involved in active combat last week when a NATO compound in Kabul came under attack.

The Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence repeatedly told Canadians that this would be a non-combat mission. Clearly, that is not the case. This training mission is a combat mission that continues to put Canadian troops at risk.

Will the government now acknowledge that there is no non-combat military role in a war?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, the combat mission in Afghanistan has now come to an end. We have transitioned to training. That training is taking place in and around Kabul. However, I do not think the member is naive enough to suggest that Canadian Forces are not going to protect themselves when in a volatile city like Kabul. They will return fire and protect themselves. That is what happened in this instance. The member and Canadians would expect no less.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is holding the government to account that says one thing and then does the other.

This incident undermines Canadians' trust in the government. We were told this would be a non-combat role. That is clearly not the case. We were told that our troops would be out of harm's way. However, the Canadian Forces say that Kabul is an extremely violent environment.

We were even denied a chance to debate and vote on this mission in the House of Commons.

Why did the government mislead Canadians on this issue?

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I agree with some of what the hon. member is suggesting.

Yes, Kabul is a very dangerous environment. I have nothing but the greatest respect for the Canadian soldiers who are there, doing their fine work in training the Afghan national army and police.

Yes, Canadian Forces will in fact protect themselves in that environment. As I said, the hon. member would expect no less.

To suggest somehow that the Canadian government has said there will be no danger in Kabul is completely wrong, and he is misleading the House.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence had a search and rescue helicopter pick him up while on a fishing trip. Later, he flew to London, Ontario, on a Challenger jet, and that is not all. He travelled by jet to Halifax to attend a lobster festival.

Is this the minister's way of familiarizing himself with all our different means of air and military transportation, or does he plan on becoming a pilot?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, taxpayers expect government officials to conduct the nation's business at a reasonable cost. It is something that our government takes very seriously.

I want to be clear. Our use of government aircraft by our ministers is always in compliance with policy. We do follow the policies, and we have reduced the use of government aircraft significantly, as we have said.

When we look at Challenger use by the Liberals who spoke earlier about this issue, we have reduced our use 80% since they abused them as personal limousines constantly. We only use them for government business.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, how can a lobster festival have anything to do with the army? Not so long ago, the Minister of National Defence condemned such actions. The minister's office maintains that his flight on the Cormorant had been in the works for some time. However, we learned today that the helicopter was ordered that same day.

Why was a search and rescue helicopter used for a private fishing trip?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, taxpayers expect government officials to be careful and prudent in their use of government aircraft. However, they also expect government officials to carry out the government's business and sometimes that necessitates the use of government aircraft. We are very careful and prudent in doing so.

We will ensure that we continue to keep the costs of such use down and respect taxpayers' dollars; something that is certainly not a priority for that party across the aisle.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the minister's office claimed that his flight on a search and rescue helicopter was part of a long-standing request, but now we have learned that the request to pick him up from his fishing trip was ordered at the last minute.

After logging countless hours on Canadian Forces executive jets, does the minister now feel he is completely familiar with their operations, or does he need to jet around to a few more lobster festivals, just to make sure?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, our ministers and our government officials are proud to do the government's business. We are doing the government's business for the people of Canada, and we do so in a careful and prudent fashion that respects taxpayers' dollars. We will continue to do that. We are always very careful to respect taxpayers' dollars.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Department of National Defence is becoming as leaky as a used British submarine: leaks coming out to discredit the brass and leaks about the minister's fondness for executive travel, for fishing trips, and lobster festivals.

It seems the government is losing the confidence of the senior leadership in the Canadian Forces. Could the minister tell us who is running the show in his department?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the leadership within the Canadian Forces. Our chief of defence and down through the ranks have done an outstanding job: distinguishing themselves in international missions; responding to challenges here at home, whether it be floods or fires; and conducting themselves in concert with other government security forces during the Olympic games, during the G8 and G20.

Our Canadian Forces do a spectacular job. I could not be more proud of their leadership.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the illogical tale of the HMCS Chicoutimi continues after being bought second-hand from the British in 1998. After having suffered a fire in 2004, the submarine is still in dry dock today.

The government has made a claim that she will sail by 2013. Is it not true that the HMCS Chicoutimi is now being dismantled for parts?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

No, Mr. Speaker, that is not true.

In fact, what we have are four submarines that have interchangeable parts. What we are doing, of course, is trying to have those submarines available for use.

No one would deny there have been challenges with respect to these submarines that were purchased by the previous government. In fact, submarines bring an important credibility and an important capability to the Royal Canadian Navy. We are going to continue to work with our officials to see that that capability is available to Canada. That asset is something that will serve our country well in the future.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, seriously, a former sailor says that there are only 80 qualified submariners in the entire Canadian Navy. Not so long ago, there were 300. Parts from HMCS Chicoutimi have even been installed on HMCS Victoria.

Will the government now admit that we will have to wait until 2016 before a single submarine is operational in the Canadian Navy?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I said, this is an important capability. The submarine program has been plagued with difficulties. These are very sophisticated vessels. One person compared their sophistication to the space shuttle in terms of the amount of equipment on board that submarine.

With respect to their availability, we have had use of those submarines at various times since taking possession of them. They are involved in an upgrade right now that will see their availability in the future, and we continue to work toward that process.

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, from 6,800 veterans fighting the government in the Supreme Court to get their SISIP clawback done, from widows fighting for enhanced VIP services for themselves, from atomic veterans with no compensation package, to an agent orange compensation that left out thousands of people, we now have an increasing number of homeless veterans and veterans using food banks.

When the minister said yesterday in the House that we have a seamless transition to civilian life, does this mean transition to the good shepherd's society, does this mean transition to the streets, does this mean transition to food bank shelters? When will the government--