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House of Commons Hansard #182 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was report.

Topics

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to have the privilege today to speak to this incredibly important bill on behalf of my constituents from Surrey North.

The bill was put forward by my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie. Bill C-398 is an act to amend the Patent Act, basically drugs for international humanitarian purposes. It is known as medicines for all.

If passed, the bill will ensure affordable treatment for diseases, such as HIV-AIDS, malaria and TB, for the world's poorest who are suffering and dying without treatment for these and other diseases because they cannot afford medicines.

One child dies every three seconds in the world for the want of quality treatment medicines. One in two children born with HIV will die before his or her second birthday.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, 22 million people are currently infected with HIV-AIDS. It is an area that has been the hardest hit by this pandemic. It has 68% of the global total and 90% of the world's children with HIV-AIDS. HIV impedes maternal health and is responsible for an additional 61,000 deaths of mothers per year. Only one-third of the patients living with HIV-AIDS who need treatment receive it, and children are the most underserved group.

We know that Canada's access to medicine regime, known as CAMR, is broken and that it needs to be fixed in order to allow Canadian generic drug companies to send life-saving medicines to people who so desperately need them. That is precisely what the bill would do. It would simply fix the existing regulations that are mired in red tape. The bill would get rid of the unnecessary red tape that prevents CAMR from fulfilling its own mandate. CAMR is supposed to allow for the export of the generic versions of pharmaceuticals to developing countries but it is broken. The New Democrats are proposing this practical solution to fix this for once and for all.

Generic competition is the single most important factor in reducing the price of medicines for these people. In the case of some HIV-AIDS drugs, generic competition has reduced the prices by as much as 95%.

Gains have been made in the treatment for people living with HIV-AIDS but only one-third of those who need treatment actually receive it. In some countries, access to treatment is being reduced rather than increased.

When it comes to HIV-AIDS, cheap medicine is the prevention. Research has shown that early and aggressive treatment of HIV infected individuals with antiretroviral drugs, also known as ARVs, reduce the transmission of disease by 96%.

Bill C-398 is one tool at our disposal to ensure that affordable treatment reaches as many of the world's poor as possible. We, in this House, have the power to make this happen and I would strongly urge and argue that we have an obligation to make this happen. I urge members across the aisle to urgently pass the bill. It is my sincere hope that members from all parties will support this legislation. This is a moral imperative. It is a matter of conscience. It is a matter of compassion. It is basic humanity.

The bill proposes a reasonable, one licence solution that would allow generic manufacturers to supply approved medication to any eligible country on the WTO list of countries that are in need of affordable medicines.

This need is dire. CAMR is broken and it is failing to meet its goal. In five years, CAMR has been used only once to supply a single order of three in one AIDS medicines to Rwanda, but this one instance required years of effort and was so complicated that CAMR has not been used since then.

This needs to be fixed. For a solution that we already have in place, it has taken far too long. We can provide those drugs to those nations.

The bill already passed in the House of Commons with a healthy majority in March 2011, but sadly it died on the order paper in the other place. Again, I respectfully ask my colleagues on all sides of the House to help ensure that this time the bill passes in the House. It needs to be passed in an urgent way. It just makes sense to me. That is why 80% of Canadians support this initiative. That is why organizations such as UNICEF, World Vision Canada, the United Church of Canada, the Federation of Medical Women of Canada, the YWCA and the Canadian Federation of University Women support this initiative.

The bill would not cost any money to taxpayers either, not a penny. We can provide access to affordable, quality medicines to enable people in African countries and other developing nations to survive and thrive, without costing Canadian taxpayers a cent. Also, the market for medicines in poorer countries represents a very tiny portion of global sales for brand name pharmaceuticals. For example, the entire continent of Africa totals about 2% of their sales. Canada's largest generic pharmaceutical manufacturer, Apotex Inc., has publicly committed to making a three-in-one AIDS drug suited for children in developing countries if CAMR is reformed.

CAMR reform would also be fully compatible with the World Trade Organization's regulations and treaties. The WTO has repeatedly stated that compulsory licensing to increase the supply of affordable medicines to poorer countries is in keeping with WTO regulations and international legal experts endorse this position.

We can help restore Canada to a position of leadership in terms of our response to these global public health crises. Public health crises including HIV-AIDS, TB and malaria represent massive human, social and economic burdens for developing countries, significantly impeding their development. Only one-third of the patients living with HIV-AIDS who need treatment receive it, and I have said that children are the most underserved within this group. The need for treatment is increasing, yet funding is shrinking. The global fund that helps fund HIV-AIDS, TB and malaria is under particular strain. CAMR reform would encourage further generic competition, which would in fact enable the global fund and governments to stretch their limited dollars further.

The bill would be one tool at our disposal to ensure that affordable treatment for diseases such as HIV-AIDS, malaria and TB would reach as many of the world's poor as possible. We made a promise to developing countries when we established CAMR. We have failed in that promise. It is time to right the wrong for the sake of those who are suffering without the medicine they need so badly and for developing countries that are in desperate need of affordable medicines to address public health crises.

I again urge the House to unite in a global cause so that we can make a difference in the many parts of the world where help is needed. I urge my Conservative and Liberal colleagues and all members of the House to vote in favour of the bill, so that we can be compassionate and we can look after those who are in need of medicine throughout the world.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

November 21st, 2012 / 7:25 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand in this place and speak to private member's Bill C-398. At the outset I would like to thank our parliamentary secretary, the member for Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, for his longstanding work within the autism community. We understand his passion for doing the right thing in the case of autism, and we also know his compassion not just for the underprivileged and those in need here in Canada but also around the world. I want to thank him for his involvement in this debate.

Our government is committed to fighting public health challenges in the developing world and we support the underlying humanitarian objectives of Canada's access to medicines regime. We are of the view and accept that the bill is well-intentioned. We believe that those who drafted the bill have tried to fix a worthy cause, but make no mistake, the bill fails and falls far short. These amendments will not deliver on the stated objectives listed. They will not deliver more affordable medicines to the developing world and will not save lives.

This is the type of bill that I have often thought is an ideal one for the opposition. It is a bill by which the opposition members can find and bring forward a cause with passion, but when we study it and see what it will accomplish, it will end up hurting the cause.

There has never been a government in Canada that has implemented this type of bill, for very good reason. It can cause great harm and in the long run let people down. I am disappointed to say that Bill C-398 will not enable us to deliver more medicines to those who need them in the developing world. Instead, it may be a hindrance.

Even if the bill passes, Canada would not be an affordable source of medicines for the developing world. We will simply not be able to compete on price with emerging markets, as our parliamentary secretary pointed out. In fact, according to data from the World Health Organization, India is the largest supplier of antiretrovirals to developing countries. It supplies an estimated 80% of donor funded antiretrovirals to the developing world.

Bill C-398 will not address any of these realities of the lower costs in emerging markets. Developing countries will continue to choose available lower cost alternatives, and while Canada boasts a world-class generic pharmaceutical industry with high manufacturing standards and an acknowledged commitment to supporting access to medicines initiatives in the developing world, its strength is not to compete on price with countries such as India, South Africa and China.

This is particularly the case for the supply of low cost HIV-AIDS products. Generic manufacturers in the countries mentioned are able to price their products for less on average than any developed country can. That includes us in Canada. The major international procurement efforts for the developing world are focused almost exclusively on those emerging markets mentioned by our parliamentary secretary.

The Canadian generic pharmaceutical industry stated in its testimony before the House of Commons standing committee in 2007 that it had neither the ability nor the inclination to become “the generic breadbasket to the developing world”. The bill does not change that. The Canadian access to medicines regime is still available to countries that need it. Canada is the only country to have used this tool to export medicines successfully.

Prior to Canada using the regime to import drugs in 2007, there is the example of Rwanda that my colleague pointed out, which was already procuring generic HIV drugs, primarily from India, at a steadily declining price. Today Rwanda does not need Canada's access to medicines regime for those drugs. Canada can be involved in many other ways. India is now supplying Rwanda with the same product produced by Apotex under Canada's access to medicines regime at a much lower price than we would provide.

That is not to say that Canada no longer has a role to play in Rwanda. Our government continues to be a significant contributor to the global fund, one of the key development partners supporting the HIV-AIDS response in Rwanda. The work of the global fund and other funding mechanisms have generated significant improvements to the AIDS response in Rwanda. According to recent World Health Organization guidelines, Rwanda has one of the highest rates of antiretroviral coverage, reaching almost 90% in 2010 from 13% in 2004. HIV prevalence is now less than 3% in the general population of Rwanda. That is a remarkable success story.

The conclusion to be drawn from the Rwandan scenario is that, when there is a need for them, the tools we have work. Canada's access to medicines regime did its part to help the Rwandan people, as did Canadian and partner funds put towards purchasing generic drugs from countries with competitive pricing. While the government's commitment to addressing public health problems in the developing world is unwavering, we have significant concerns that Bill C-398 would result in the elimination of many elements of the regime that hold it in balance.

The approach proposed in Bill C-398, the so-called “one-licence” solution, would hinder innovation and research in Canada. In addition, many of the bill's proposed changes would violate our international trade obligations. The approach suggested by the bill would allow the Commissioner of Patents to grant an export licence without first verifying whether the importing country has made the necessary notification. In fact, a licence would not only be issued without knowing where the product will be shipped and the identity of the buyers, but also with no indication of the amount being purchased. This would cause serious transparency problems and would increase the potential for the diversion of drugs away from the people who need them the most.

The bill would also remove protections that provide incentives for research into new and innovative drugs and medical devices. This research benefits all Canadians by improving our knowledge, generating research infrastructure and creating more highly paid skilled jobs in Canada. It leads to innovations that will help people live longer, healthier and more productive lives. It is also key to our international humanitarian efforts as we strive to develop medicines that will benefit those in need.

Canada's access to medicines regime and regimes like it are only one tool in the global box. When evaluating the system, it makes much more sense to look at results, namely, whether the global supply of lower-cost medicines has increased based on Canada's leadership.

It has been said before, but I would like to remind the House of some of the remarkable statistics that show how Canada's support for global initiatives has made a difference in the treatment of public health problems in the developing world. Canadian taxpayers have provided $540 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2011-12. Through this fund, 3.6 million people living with HIV-AIDS currently receive antiretroviral treatment.

It is a worthy cause with the right intentions without a doubt. Those who support this have a passion to see people helped. However, we need to do it in a way that is sustainable and productive, a way that keeps our treaties with those countries over the long term and would not push us to the periphery.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.

NDP

Djaouida Sellah NDP Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to have the opportunity to speak in favour of this bill, which I support.

Canada's access to medicines regime was created in 2004 with support from all parties. At the time, the bill arose from a commitment by the Government of Canada. It was passed unanimously, meaning that it was supported by the House and all parties. That is why I have a hard time understanding why so many members are opposed to this bill. It is not proposing anything new. It is not a trap. It remedies a problem, period.

It is clear that there is a problem with Canada's access to medicines regime since it has received only one request, namely an order for drugs for triple therapy for treating people with HIV-AIDS in Rwanda. Even then, the company that made the request said it would never use the program again because it was too complicated.

Canada's access to medicines regime currently allows generic versions of pharmaceutical products to be exported to developing countries in order to fight various pandemics and epidemics such as HIV-AIDS, but also tuberculosis and malaria, to name a few.

I do not have enough time today to get into the details of this very important bill, but we would do well as Canadians and parliamentarians to support this bill. We made a commitment to these developing countries. As the member who spoke before me said, it is important for Canada to save lives in those countries.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the last few months I have heard from many stakeholders about Bill C-398. I have met with brand name and generic pharmaceutical companies. I have met with NGOs. I have met with so many Canadians who want to see this bill passed. In the last week, alone, I have received over 2,800 emails of support in my office. The grandmothers have collected over 23,000 signatures in support of this bill through their cross-Canada petitions.

Bill C-398 has the support of more than 80 international NGOs, including Médecins sans Frontières, Apostolic Faith Mission in Lesotho, the Church of Scotland, and the U.K.'s Stop AIDS Campaign. Within Canada, there are over 250 NGOs and community groups in support of this, including World Vision, Results Canada, AQOCI, Care Canada, UNICEF, Oxfam, and organizations, such as the City of Prince Albert and the HIV Network of Edmonton. We have the support of faith leaders across the country.

We know that generic manufacturers support this bill, and they are ready to provide a one-dose AIDS medication for children should this bill become law. Importantly, the brand name pharmaceutical companies of Canada have written to us to say that they do not oppose this legislation.

Like us, like all the others, Rx&D want to make CAMR work. They have stated their guiding principles and we are in agreement with them. These include transparency with respect to the product and the amount of product. We agree, and Bill C-398 addresses this. They want to see flexibility with respect to the amount of product that is sent overseas so there will be enough to meet public health needs, and of course we agree with that. Their concerns about anti-diversion are fair, and they are addressed in the legislation. Their concerns about eligible countries are fair, and we are open to discussing that at the committee stage. Like them, we agree that the products should be approved by Health Canada. In fact, Bill C-398 does not change that. Finally, they speak of the principle of an appeal mechanism, which is also fair. We have no problem with that.

Like hundreds of NGOs, and like most Canadians, 80% like the generic companies. The brand name pharmaceutical industry is ready to see this bill at the foreign affairs committee. My colleagues across the aisle should be ready for that too.

In fact, the only people who seem to oppose this legislation are some colleagues on the other side, who have been misinformed through outdated and misguided talking points. Their opposition to the bill is based on incorrect information or a lack of information.

In this respect, I was a bit surprised to hear the parliamentary secretary on the matter and to realize the Minister of Industry does not seem to know the industry is on board with this bill. That is a bit surprising. I have heard things, such as the bill removes the need for notification of quantities and things like that. I am flabbergasted. Have these people read the bill? The bill does not do that.

I heard very briefly that it would be costly to the economy. That is not the case. I have heard that CAMR works, but people who are involved in it say it does not work, that it does not change the economics of drug supply. That is wrong. Competition brings the prices down. A portion of medicines are already generic, but this bill is aimed at those medicines that are not generic. I will not go down the list, because unfortunately I do not have time.

It is so important that we, as parliamentarians, vote on this bill based on the correct information. It would be a very sad day if my colleagues on the other side of the House refused to join the consensus that includes pharmaceutical companies and 80% of Canadians.

I urge them to remember when they vote that this bill would save lives. I encourage all of my colleagues to take the time to study the bill. My door is open to them. Next Wednesday, let us vote for life, let us vote for CAMR reform.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

7:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

7:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

7:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

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

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

7:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

7:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

7:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

7:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

In my opinion, the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, November 28, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

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

Parks CanadaAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I raised a question a number of weeks ago about the cuts to Parks Canada across the country, especially in my riding in the Northwest Territories, where over the past six years the Conservative government has been very proud to promote the development of parks. The government talked about that in its answer, but my question dealt with the lack of attention to important funding for parks.

In particular, I referred to the Nahanni National Park expansion. When voted on the bill in the House of Commons, there was unanimous consent because the minister at that time, the Hon. Jim Prentice, gave me a letter indicating very clearly that the government was going to invest considerably in capital in Fort Simpson to improve the ability of the park to deliver services, promote tourism and do all those things. As well, a larger staff was going to be hired in the park. In the Conservative budget this spring, we saw a cut to those promises.

We still have not seen any capital investment in the park and this is breaking a promise that the Conservatives made to the people of the Deh Cho region of the Northwest Territories to establish a very large park. Taking the land of that park was a commitment on the part of the Government of Canada. It was a gift of the people of the Deh Cho to Canada. There is a requirement for respect. Respect says we stick with the deal that we made. When we make a deal like this that is good for Canada and the people of the north, we should stick with it. In its budget, the government broke its promise to the people of the Deh Cho.

I would like the government to restore the funding and staffing positions of the Nahanni National Park, as it should be. This park was expanded by over 20,000 square kilometres. The Nahanni National Park is a world-class tourism opportunity. To beggar the park at this point in time is exactly the wrong thing to do. This is a jewel in the Canadian park system.

Across the entire north, there have been sacrifices on a number of occasions with national parks. What have we seen out of that? We saw the loss of over 64 positions throughout the three northern territories. The three northern territories carry 12 national parks in Canada. Twelve of the 44 national parks in Canada are in those three territories. The commitment of the people of the north to national parks is large. Why is the government failing in its commitment to ensure that parks work effectively and efficiently and promote the economic well-being of the communities of the north?

Parks CanadaAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the member for Western Arctic is absolutely right. This government does take enormous pride in its record with regard to national parks, particularly in northern Canada. We also take our commitments extremely seriously, especially those we make at election time or before elections. Therefore, I will not dwell on the member for Western Arctic's failure to implement his own commitment to his own constituents with regard to the elimination of the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. He can deal with his own conscience and his own constituents on that point.

However, with regard to parks he is right. Our northern parks contain some of the most inspirational landscapes that we have. They define the essence of this country from the Yukon's Kluane National Park and Reserve to the bison roaming the boreal forest of Wood Buffalo National Park, or to the towering mountains of Auyuittuq in Nunavut, a relatively new creation. Our government will continue to protect these lands for future generations.

We have a special record with regard to national parks in this Conservative party from Banff forward. That is why our 2010-11 Throne Speech was committed to establishing significant new protected areas.

Under the northern strategy and Arctic foreign policy statement, we will designate new national parks in northern Canada, plus a new national marine conservation area in Nunavut's Lancaster Sound. This commitment is best exemplified by our decision to protect the south Nahanni River watershed, which the member mentioned, one of the planet's great rivers.

In 2009, in collaboration with the Dehcho First Nations, our government delivered the sixfold expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve. As the member mentioned, at 30,000 square kilometres, it is now Canada's third largest national park.

Just this past summer, our Prime Minister travelled north to announce the creation of the 4,850 square kilometre Naats'ihch'oh National Park Reserve with the Sahtu Dene and Métis people.

In 2006, Parks Canada's protected network covered approximately 277,000 square kilometres. Since then, we have added 50,000 square kilometres of nationally significant lands and waters, an area seven times the size of Lake Ontario.

In addition, we have taken actions that will eventually lead to the protection of another 100,000 square kilometres of natural areas. All told, our government has taken and will continue to take the actions necessary to produce a 53% increase in the size of Parks Canada's protected areas network.

This work to expand our world-class national park system not only protects the environment, it is an important investment in the economic sustainability of northern communities.

Parks Canada is a significant face in 22 communities in Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. With the creation of each new national park and national marine conservation area, that presence grows.

As we work to finalize measures to implement this budget, it will still maintain 330 employees across the north and over 35% of Parks Canada's staff employed in the north self-identify as aboriginal. We will continue to work with northern communities to ensure the economic benefits of new national parks accrue to them and their children.

Parks CanadaAdjournment Proceedings

7:50 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada's position does not bode well for the creation of new parks. It does not bode well for the co-operation of people to create new parks if the government creates new parks but does not live up to its promise to protect the resources in those parks and to give them the intrinsic nature they require to grow and expand as important parts of the northern economy and of the economies of the regions of the north.

The Dehcho people gave up a very important piece of natural real estate with many significant resources in it for that park. We expect the Government of Canada to live up to its commitments.

Parks CanadaAdjournment Proceedings

7:50 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Conservative Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think the member for Western Arctic understands as well as any Canadian that this venture, this investment, this effort to protect and conserve land, habitat and wildlife, is a long-term venture. In order to protect it over the long term, we need to be strong as a country, as do successive governments. One of the elements of strength is the ability to balance a budget, to maintain fiscal sustainability. We will not apologize for our efforts to do things more efficiently in our national parks.

However, we are working with the people of the north and the northern communities, as well as 330 employees across this vast area, of which 35% are self-identifying as aboriginal with roots in those communities, toward a goal we all share, which is to bring Canadians and the wider world to see these treasures and these unique landscapes.

Tourism in Canada generates $72 billion in economic activity per year. Parks Canada is a major stakeholder in the success of that industry over the long term.

National DefenceAdjournment Proceedings

7:55 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak today about the question I asked the government on September 17. My question was mainly about transparency and the release of information about the program to replace the CF-18s.

Virtually no progress has been made in the past two months. When I asked my previous question, I wanted to know how the government could honestly say that it was implementing the Auditor General's recommendation when a series of emails clearly showed that the Department of National Defence had tried to influence the report and was rejecting the conclusions.

In the meantime, we have learned that the famous national fighter procurement secretariat, which is supposed to review the entire acquisition process and provide Parliament with revised specific costs, will obtain information about the life cycle costs of the F-35s from the Department of National Defence. We are talking about the very same department that was deemed incapable of managing the procurement program that it had bungled from the beginning, a department that kept two sets of books, one for the department and one for the public, to ensure that it would not have to reveal the true cost of this program.

I am not sure this is what the Auditor General had in mind when he talked about due diligence. The truth is that the sole-sourcing of fighter aircraft is the biggest military procurement botch-up in Canadian history. It is even worse than what the Liberals did.

The Auditor General said that the process has to be done again. The Minister of Public Works and Government Services says that she is looking at other options, while the chief of the air force staff says that, to his knowledge, other options are not being looked at. The Department of National Defence confirms that, yes, other options are being studied. No one is saying, or seems to know, what the other options are. We have complete silence.

On top of that, the special committee that was set up to study the Auditor General's report has been gagged. However, the NDP and the Auditor General are not the only ones sounding the alarm. A few days ago, an article appeared expressing the concerns of one of the American air force's best pilots. Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Niemi, a former F-22 test pilot, said that the American air force was making a mistake by acquiring an all-stealth fleet. In his view, stealth may have advantages, but the disadvantages must not be forgotten; this is something to be taken seriously.

His comments remind me strangely of those we have repeatedly made in committee for months, when the F-35s are discussed. The government may seem not to want to listen to the NDP, so perhaps it should pay attention to what a stealth aircraft test pilot says. He goes on to say that, in his opinion, stealth provides no advantage in conflicts such as those in Afghanistan or Iraq, since 2003, and it cannot guarantee success in future struggles.The F-22, the F-35's big brother, remains inferior to older fourth-generation aircraft in some scenarios.

All the evidence seems to suggest that there is reasonable doubt about the choice of replacement aircraft for the CF-18s, evidence that the government is ignoring month after month. After announcing in July 2010 that Canada would be buying 65 F-35s, the government is backpedalling and saying that the decision has not yet been made. But, in light of the non-existent work and the different stories about the F-35 secretariat, I would like to ask the government if anyone really has any idea of how botched-up this program is.

National DefenceAdjournment Proceedings

7:55 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to respond to questions from my hon. colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue. The starting point for our discussion here today is the Auditor General's report released this spring, on April 3, 2012. I would like to talk about the government's strategy for responding to the questions raised by the Auditor General and carrying out such a major project.

If we really want to get the right aircraft to replace the CF-18, I would say first of all that we cannot rely solely on what some American pilot said. There are differences of opinion on the future of these military capabilities, which are very important to us and our allies. We need to have a much broader analysis process. Our government began working on that a few months ago.

By introducing the government's seven-point action plan, we will fulfill and exceed the Auditor General's recommendations. Let us be clear: we have effectively pushed a restart on the replacement of the CF-18s. No decision will be made until the action plan is complete.

This action plan defines how due diligence and transparency will be applied as we move forward with replacing Canada's fighter jets. As part of the action plan, the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat was established. It is a part of Public Works and Government Services Canada. The secretariat has the lead coordinating role as the government moves to replace our aging CF-18 fleet. It will provide the due diligence, oversight and transparency necessary.

There is also a deputy ministers' governance committee overseeing the work of the secretariat. It includes two independent members, Mr. Denis Desautels, a renowned former auditor general, and Dr. Kenneth Norrie.

The secretariat is making great progress in implementing the seven-point action plan. I encourage my parliamentary colleagues, including the hon. member, to consult the secretariat's website, which is updating us all on the work being done at regular intervals.

The evaluation of options to sustain a Canadian Forces fighter capability well into the 21st century is under way and will involve a full evaluation of real choices. This detailed evaluation will provide the best available information about the range of choices that could meet the needs of our men and women in uniform.

This work is being led by National Defence and facilitated by the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat. It will be subject to approval by the deputy ministers' governance committee and we will report back to Canadians when the evaluation is complete.

The secretariat will commission an independent review of the acquisition process to date. A request for proposal was issued on October 26, 2012 to select a company to conduct this review. The third party will provide us with the lessons learned so that we can look to improve the way we conduct similar acquisitions in the future.

Let us be clear about the objectives of this review. We do not wish to cast aspersions the Auditor General's work.

I would like to repeat that the government has accepted his findings and recommendations, but while this work is under way, other items in the action plan continue to advance, including the annual update, which will be tabled in Parliament relatively soon. The action plan commits the Department of National Defence, through the secretariat, to provide annual updates to Parliament on the costs of the F-35, which is one option for the replacement of Canada's CF-18s. The first update will be tabled shortly and allows for the independent review of the figures in the report.

As part of this annual update, the Treasury Board Secretariat has commissioned the independent review that will help set a consistent life-cycle costing framework to report costing estimates for this project. This will enable National Defence to more effectively report costs to Parliament and the public in the future.

We also commit Industry Canada under the action plan to continue identifying opportunities for Canadian industry to participate in the F-35 joint strike fighter global supply chain, a supply chain and opportunity that has brought enormous benefits already to many Canadian communities.

National DefenceAdjournment Proceedings

8 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, military procurement of this magnitude is normally subject to a tendering process, but that never happened. No supplier other than Lockheed Martin was ever taken seriously. To try to justify this action, a statement of operational requirements was written that was tailored to the F-35. The Conservatives are saying that they are going to examine all the options to see what the best choice is for the Canadian air fleet, but there is nothing to show that such is actually the case.

Has the statement of operational requirements been rewritten so that it is not tailored to the F-35? Is the secretariat seriously examining other options? What other options are being examined? Unfortunately, we still have not received any answers.

National DefenceAdjournment Proceedings

8 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Conservative Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member already knows, Lockheed Martin was competing with another company to develop the F-35. This happened under another government, the Liberal government, and with the oversight of an American government.

Canada's options are being very carefully examined. As I said, the F-35 is just one of the options.

The funding envelope for the acquisition of a replacement aircraft has been frozen. All elements of the seven point action plan will be completed before we make a decision on how to replace the current fleet of CF-18 fighter jets. The government's action plan is a comprehensive response to the Auditor General's recommendations and conclusions in chapter 2 of his spring 2012 report.

There has been more progress than hon. members in this House have acknowledged to date and there will continue to be progress, due diligence, transparency and healthy debate in this House before a decision is taken.

National DefenceAdjournment Proceedings

8:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 8:05 p.m.)