This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

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

8:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Denise Savoie

Order. The hon. member for Pontiac.

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

8:55 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Madam Chair, I did not ask about the contents of the letter. I asked why he waited until August 2010.

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

8:55 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Madam Chair, we have answered this question many times. The process seeks to improve the review process for the next-generation fighter aircraft. It is clear that there is now greater transparency and accountability, and we continue to work with all departments on this very important procurement project.

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

8:55 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Madam Chair, why did you wait one month after the government announced its decision to purchase the F-35 jets? You waited one month before providing a statement of operational requirements. Why the one-month delay?

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

8:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Denise Savoie

Once again, I would ask members to direct their questions through the chair.

Because there was no translation, could the hon. member repeat his question?

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

8:55 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Of course, Madam Chair.

Can the Minister of National Defence tell us why the department did not provide the statement of operational requirements until one month after it announced its decision to purchase the F-35 jets? Why wait one month?

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

8:55 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Madam Chair, the Department of National Defence does not base its decisions solely on one piece of information, on one letter. The letter represents just one aspect of all the information needed to make such a decision. Again, as the Associate Minister of National Defence said, we have not made a decision yet. In concert with Public Works and Government Services, we have set up a process to continue reviewing the matter of procuring our next planes.

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

8:55 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Madam Chair, the minister just said there was a process in place, but it is clear there was no process. It is clear. They had already decided to buy the F-35s before even sending the statement of operational requirements to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services. Why?

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

8:55 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Madam Chair, I do not agree with what the member has just said. We have not made that decision. That is exactly why we have in place the secretariat and the leadership of Public Works. What he is referring to in some of his minutia is the statement of requirements, which is a highly technical document that Public Works did not request at the time.

Now we have a process whereby we will be able to share greater information, move forward to ensure greater transparency, accountability, reporting to Parliament and independent oversight. All of this will build confidence and, most important, ensure that we get the right aircraft for the Canadian Forces.

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

8:55 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Madam Chair, the minister knows that is not true because at a press conference on July 15, 2010, he announced that they had already made a decision on the F-35s. It was your press conference. I will move on to something else.

Answer me this: as far as the mandatory requirements in the statement of operational requirements developed by the Department of National Defence are concerned, how many requirements did the F-35 fail to meet?

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

8:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Denise Savoie

Once again, I would remind the hon. member to address his comments to the Chair, as I will not respond to direct questions.

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

8:55 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Madam Chair, clearly the member would know that this is a development aircraft and in order for a decision to be made, all of the requirements will need to be met.

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

8:55 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Madam Chair, I asked the hon. minister to tell me what requirements the F-35s have failed to satisfy so far.

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

8:55 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Conservative Ajax—Pickering, ON

Madam Chair, as the hon. member must know, a tremendous number of documents, including the documents he is talking about right now, have been submitted to the Standing Committee on National Defence. There are various stages to the analysis that has been done so far. Yes, the F-35 is still in the development process, but we have shared everything we know about this aircraft in committee.

Why did he not take the time to read those documents?

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

9 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Madam Chair, in short, they do not know which requirements the F-35 does or does not meet at this time.

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

9 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Conservative Ajax—Pickering, ON

Madam Chair, I did not understand the question, but I would like to reiterate to the member that the requirements expressed by Canada, by National Defence, have been very clear so far. This aircraft is still being developed. We expect all requirements to be met before Canada will take any procurement steps.

A tremendous number of very detailed documents was submitted to the committee. Why—

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

9 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Denise Savoie

Order. I asked that ministers' responses reflect approximately the time taken by the question.

The hon. member for Pontiac.

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

9 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Madam Chair, they cannot even tell me which of the 28 mandatory requirements the aircraft do not currently meet.

More specifically, do the 360-degree view pilot helmets meet the requirements right now?

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

9 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, as was stated earlier, I can give the hon. member opposite assurances that this is an aircraft in development. There is still a way to go before definitive outcomes are achieved. We are watching and monitoring the development very carefully, along with our partner nations. A decision will be made when those answers are forthcoming and we have a better understanding of the issues, and then Canada will decide.

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

9 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Madam Chair, if they did not know that the F-35s would meet all of the requirements, why did they choose them?

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

9 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, this is conjecture, speculation and interpreting things that just are not true. I do not know how many more times the hon. member opposite needs to hear the same answer: we have not determined that the F-35 will be the replacement for our aging CF-18s. Those decisions are not as yet made, and the member knows that.

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

9 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Madam Chair, everything depends on the term “fifth generation”. The Auditor General pointed out that the term “fifth generation” is not a description of operational requirements.

Can the Minister of National Defence confirm that that was a fiction in terms of their need for the F-35s?

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

9 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, there is no fiction here. We are very serious about ensuring that our men and women are given the tools to do their job. Canada is committed to supporting our men and women. We are not operating in fiction. We are operating on fact and on reality, and I am surprised the member would suggest otherwise.

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

9 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Madam Chair, if they are indeed operating on the basis of reality, what does “fifth generation” mean to military procurement professionals?

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

9 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, on the terminology, if I can interpret on what I know about what we are talking about here, we are talking about enhancing the capabilities of our fighter aircraft beyond what is now available in the CF-18.