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House of Commons Hansard #105 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the government accepts the recommendations, who will be held responsible for this fiasco?

In 2006, the Conservatives made a commitment to purchase the F-35s with taxpayers' money without a guarantee that Canadian corporations would benefit. According to the Auditor General, the Conservative ministers also provided misleading information about regional spinoffs. The Conservatives held press conferences to announce regional spinoffs that were non-existent.

How can the Conservatives justify providing misleading information about the F-35 fighter jets?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we accept the conclusions of the Auditor General and we will implement his recommendations.

The Government of Canada has taken action today to ensure that due diligence, oversight and transparency are firmly embedded in the process to replace Canada's aging fighter jets. That is why we have frozen funding for the acquisition, and are establishing a separate F-35 secretariat outside of National Defence to lead this project moving forward.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, what the Conservatives should do is apologize for misleading Canadians. Public Works is supposed to supervise large procurement projects and, in 2009, it had the opportunity to sound the alarm. However, according to the Auditor General, the department failed to exercise due diligence.

Who was the Minister of Public Works at the time? Who stood by and just watched? Of course, it was the member for Mégantic—L'Érable. After he was informed of this fiasco in the making, why did the Minister of Public Works at the time do nothing to prevent this disaster?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we have not signed a contract to purchase any aircraft. We have frozen the funding in anticipation of refining the cost estimates before a decision is made for any acquisition. A budget, as we have said, has been allocated, and we will stay within that budget.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, according to the Auditor General, the F-35 affair is just riddled with lies.

The government cannot dodge responsibility. It is not credible and simply not true for Conservatives to say that they did not know until today. They were told by the Liberal opposition 21 months ago. They were told by the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

The government's own internal figures were similar to the PBO's, but denied that and is misleading Parliament. Even worse, it has not fixed the problem. Why is there still no open competitive bidding?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I do not accept the premise that the report is riddled with lies.

Let me quote:

The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program is unique. In this context, National Defence, as the lead department, exercised due diligence in managing Canada’s participation in the Program. National Defence managed industrial participation well (together with Industry Canada), identified and communicated risks and mitigation strategies related to JSF Program participation....

I am surprised that the member opposite would categorize those statements as lies.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, if he reads carefully, those words apply to the period before 2006.

With their culture of deceit laid bare, Conservatives throw some scapegoat under the bus: Linda Keen, Richard Colvin, and Munir Sheikh. On election fraud, it is Michael Sona. Now on the F-35s, it is whole department of defence. However, the government cannot victimize bureaucrats and the military. It cannot blame child pornographers and Taliban terrorists.

This is their process from the top down. It is the Prime Minister's job to know the truth and to tell the truth, and he failed.

Why is there still no competition?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am really surprised that we would be lumping in all kinds of issues with respect to the Auditor General's report, which we accept.

The report is clear, and we have a strategy to move forward. I invite the member opposite to have a good read and to understand our commitment to dealing with this issue.

The Auditor General has spoken, we have listened and we are moving forward.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning, the Auditor General told us that the administration of the F-35 program is a monumental fiasco. This government has shown itself to be incompetent and completely blind for six years, and it is already trying to blame public officials and the military for its incompetence. Pretending that the government was not aware of the facts is unacceptable. It is time to fire a minister.

Why would the Prime Minister not demand the resignation of the Minister of National Defence, someone who is more than incompetent?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, this morning the Auditor General was very clear—

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. Minister of Public Works has the floor.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Conservative Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Mr. Speaker, this morning the Auditor General was very clear. He said that the Department of National Defence needed to refine its cost estimates and needed to be more transparent.

Our government's response is also very clear: We will ensure that the Department of National Defence does refine its cost estimates. In addition, we will ensure that we move this project into a secretariat that will manage the process of replacing the CF-18s, and we will immediately freeze the funding for the F-35s.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, a different minister, the same spin.

The Auditor General has been very clear. Conservatives used two different estimates for F-35 maintenance costs, one for internal decision-making and another lower figure for the public.

While the Associate Minister of National Defence has, day after day, dutifully repeated talking points, he was hiding a secret estimate that was $10 billion higher. I have two simple questions for the Associate Minister of National Defence.

Why did he mislead Canadians? Will he apologize?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I certainly do not accept the premise.

We do in fact accept the conclusions of the Auditor General, and we will in fact implement his recommendations.

The Government of Canada is taking action today to ensure that due diligence, oversight and transparency are firmly embedded in the program to replace the aging fighter jets. That is why we have frozen funding for the acquisition and are establishing a separate F-35 secretariat, outside of national defence, to lead this program forward.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are having trouble with the facts, still, so let me help them.

In February of 2010, the Conservatives were told by the U.S. government that the F-35 “would cost more and take longer to finish than planned”, yet the Conservatives intentionally hid the facts from Canadians.

The Minister of National Defence even did his best to demonize the Parliamentary Budget Officer, despite knowing full well that the PBO was correct. Why did the Minister of National Defence attack the PBO and mislead Parliament?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, we accept the recommendations and findings of the Auditor General. We have a seven-point plan to move forward to address these issues. In that regard, we are addressing these issues in earnest and will continue to move forward.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, today the Auditor General once again showed how the Conservatives are mismanaging the public purse. They have misled Parliament on the F-35's costs, mishandled aviation safety, and failed to safely manage the border.

The Conservative government has simply not gotten the job done. Its solution is to gut public services further and to let us hope for the best.

Given this scathing report from the Auditor General, why will the Conservatives not acknowledge what they did wrong and tell Canadians the truth?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General was clear this morning in his report. His one recommendation was that the Department of National Defence continue to refine its cost estimates for the F-35 and that it be more transparent.

We accept that, and we will not purchase any new aircraft until the Department of National Defence has met that recommendation.

In addition to that, we will immediately freeze the funding allocated for the F-35 and ensure that a secretariat is put in place to manage the process for this procurement to replace the CF-18.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is not enough to just accept recommendations. It would seem that, instead of preventing mismanagement, the government waits until it is caught in the act before apologizing.

The Conservatives wasted public money on some very questionable projects for the G8 summit, and now the same thing is happening all over again with the F-35 jets. Whether we are talking about border inspections of imports or monitoring of civil aviation, administrative problems continue to come to light.

With such poor management, how can Canadians trust this government?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, as I said, the Auditor General's report indicated in one recommendation that the Department of National Defence needs to refine its cost estimates. That is important recommendation for the member to recognize because the funding has not yet been spent. The department needs to refine its cost estimates for this project. We accept that recommendation.

Furthermore, we have frozen the funds associated with this to ensure full respect for taxpayers.

EmploymentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, it does not make any sense. According to Statistics Canada, there are 700,000 more unemployed workers in Canada than before the recession. This government wants to eliminate close to 20,000 public sector jobs and cut $5.2 billion in services.

A study published this morning shows that these cuts will result in the loss of 40,000 more jobs in the private sector.

Where is the real job creation strategy? What is this government waiting for to face reality and to put a real job creation strategy on the table?

EmploymentOral Questions

April 3rd, 2012 / 2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, there are some spending reductions of course in the budget that was tabled on Thursday. The actual number of federal public servants who will be leaving the public service is about 12,000.

The so-called study to which the member refers is by the Canadian Association of Professional Employees, which is using a wild number of 40,825 Canadians. However, that is not as wild as the number they used in February, which was not fewer than 116,000 Canadians. That is a long way from the truth: 12,000, as documented in the budget.

EmploymentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, they were actually using numbers from Statistics Canada.

The government seems to fear the facts, because the reality is that the job cuts unleashed in this budget will have a major impact on core services for Canadians. From health care, food inspection, and transportation safety to critical science and research on the environment, these services are vital for Canadian families.

Why did the Conservatives table a budget that fails to deal with the priorities of Canadian families? Why are they turning the lives of Canadian families backwards when they should be turning their lives forward? Why are they not doing that in the budget?

EmploymentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, here is what we are doing in the budget. We are looking at long-term growth, jobs and prosperity in Canada. We have the track record on this side of the House with 610,000 net new jobs in Canada since the end of the recession.

What is the prescription from the other side of the House? It is a $10 billion tax hike. That is what the New Democratic opposition recommends for Canada, a huge job-killing tax. That is not what we are doing, which is jobs, growth and prosperity.

Aviation SafetyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General reported that one out of three airline safety inspections was not done. Why were they not done? There was not enough staff. Even when air traffic is increasing by 4% this year, the Conservatives are cutting $17 million from aviation safety and $60 million from Transport Canada. Inspectors will be cut. The safety of air travellers will be at risk.

How can the minister justify these dangerous cuts to inspectors who keep our planes safe?