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House of Commons Hansard #120 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:20 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Denise Savoie

Again, through the Chair. The hon. associate minister.

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, if I may, the documents the hon. member opposite is speaking about have been tendered with the committee. He is a member of that committee and I would assume that he would have read them by now.

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:20 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Madam Chair, under embargo, I might point out.

Would the minister then indicate to the House the cost of running an F-35 on a per hour basis as set out in this Selected Acquisition Report?

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, I am pleased to again repeat the operative and relevant answer to the hon. member's question. We are dutifully following the recommendation made by the Auditor General with respect to certainty of pricing, costing and so forth. We intend to do that. We are committed to ensuring that we bring forward the most appropriate and finite details in order for these decisions to be made.

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:20 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Madam Chair, I just take note and direct the minister's attention to a document called the Selected Acquisition Report, dated December 31, 2011. Therein it sets out the costs of an F-35 at $32,000 an hour.

Does the hon. minister know what the operating costs of an F-18 are?

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, again I repeat, we are bringing all those figures forward in an organized, detailed way, as was recommended by the Auditor General. I am not in a position at this point in time to speculate on that very recommendation until such time as we have the answer.

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Madam Chair, this is an historical figure. The minister is surrounded by the Chief of Defence Staff and every senior official in the Department of Defence. Is there no one in the House tonight who can say what the operating costs of an F-18 might be on a per hour basis?

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, as the minister knows, the methodology by which costings have been gathered and reported has been the subject of some dispute and debate. The Auditor General has made the recommendation that we need to make finite those particular numbers and bring certainty to those numbers. We are doing exactly that.

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Madam Chair, these are historical facts. DND keeps these numbers.

All I am asking for is a very simple number. How much does it cost to operate the F-18 on a per hour basis?

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, again I repeat, the Auditor General addressed the issue and the discrepancies with respect to cost. We have taken his recommendation. There is a secretariat in place whose job and responsibility is to bring those costs forward in a factual, organized fashion. We are waiting for that to happen.

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Madam Chair, does the hon. member agree that the normal military procurement is basically dollar for dollar, if $100 is spent on the acquisition of an asset, $100 is received in industrial benefits?

Why, therefore, would the government enter into a contract where there is not going to be a return of dollar for dollar? At this point, there is approximately $400 million worth of contracts being let, that was true in 2005 and it is also true in 2012. Why is there no increase over seven years? There is $330 billion that has been spent on the program.

The government has traded millions for billions.

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, I think we are talking about millions, not billions.

Regardless, I want to again emphasize this. If the hon. member were to read the report, he would see that throughout the report there are discrepancies with regard to how the pricings and costings have been reported. We are respectful of the recommendations made by the Auditor General. We have put in place a seven point action plan to fulfill his specific recommendation. Those answers will be forthcoming.

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Madam Chair, we are waiting for these answers to be forthcoming. Something might freeze over while we wait.

The government touts the success of achieving $400 million worth of contracts when $330 billion has been spent on the program. Why would the government trade millions for billions?

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, it is really surprising that the member would not have these details. The CF-18 program was started under his government. Those figures would have been available. I am sure the member could well acquaint himself with those.

However, we are going to maintain respect for the Auditor General's recommendation on pricing and cost, and how that is going to unfold. We will, as I said earlier, be bringing those determinate figures forward at the right time.

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Madam Chair, refresh my memory here, I thought we were asking the questions and he was supposed to have the answers. Thus far, the hon. member does not seem to know too much about his own program. Let me try another question.

With respect to the development of the F-35 versus the F-18, currently we can basically build an F-18 in Montreal, stem to gudgeon. If we acquire the F-35, will we have similar capability?

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, this is an awful lot of supposition. We are not moving along the lines of supposition and what if's. We are going to act on definitive figures. Those figures will be forthcoming. Decisions have not been made as yet.

We will continue to work with our partners on the development of the joint strike fighter, but as of yet no decisions have been made. I do not quite know what is happening in Montreal that the hon. member across is speaking about.

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Madam Chair, I recommend a tour by the minister of the facility in Montreal. He will realize that over the lifetime of the F-18 we have developed a considerable capability, which is a very important capability. In fact other nations come to us to have F-18s fixed.

Will we be able to fix the F-35s over the course of their projected life cycle in the same fashion as the F-18s?

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, the hon. member is leap-frogging ahead.

No decision has been made with respect to the acquisition of our replacement aircraft for the CF-18s. We are not in a position to guess. We are acting very diligently and responsibly on the recommendations of the Auditor General. Decisions will be forthcoming once the facts and figures are known, upon which decisions can be made.

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Madam Chair, does the minister know how much of the F-35's expected lifetime will be spent in North American airspace?

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, I appreciate the guesswork here. We are not getting into that. We do not know that we are going to buy or contract to purchase the F-35. Those are presumptions and speculations, which I am not prepared to answer.

Canadians want facts. They want decisions made on the basis of facts, not conjecture.

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Madam Chair, the Department of National Defence keeps meticulous records as to how much is domestic and how much is international. Based upon that, could the hon. minister project how much the replacement jet fighter will spend in North American airspace?

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Madam Chair, clearly the hon. member is asking us to look into the future to determine what missions we would be flying with the replacement aircraft, where we would be going. What missions we would be flying over North America is still speculation at this point.

For a member who has now spent his time in the third row in the third party, he should know better.

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Madam Chair, the interesting fact is the minister is now saying he is purchasing aircraft and he does not know how much time will be spent in domestic airspace and how much will be spent in international airspace. The consequence of which is he is essentially flying blind. That is what he is telling us. The government is flying blind.

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Madam Chair, the entire mission set of the Canadian Forces is premised on our ability to look out into the future, to see what we will need for domestic operations at home, in North America, what missions might exist.

No one would have anticipated the mission over Libya. No one could have said with certainty that we would be in Kosovo.

The hon. member may be Nostradamus. He may have some ability to look well into the future and determine with certainty where we will be, but what I can assure the hon. member is we will be ready. This government intends to give the forces the equipment it will need to be ready.

National Defence--Main Estimates, 2012-13Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

8:35 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. The time has lapsed.

The Associate Minister of National Defence.