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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

7:40 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, it is obvious that the Conservatives do not realize how bad the crisis is, and they continue to shirk their responsibility when it comes to aboriginal health.

This spring, the Minister of Health refused to meet with the community in Cat Lake. Now there is an opportunity to fix that snub.

The Nishnawbe Aski Nation has specific proposals that are worth considering, and I will paraphrase them.

The Nishnawbe Aski Nation would like to have culturally relevant and community-based treatment for drug addiction using their own effective strategies and models; in community recovery programs to rebuild families and communities while addressing the root causes of addiction; improved security and policing resources to reduce the supply of drugs into their territory; and appropriate economic development and education that will bring an element of hope to the young population for a brighter and more productive future.

Once again, I need to ask the question and I hope I will get an answer. Will the Conservative government work with communities like those in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation?

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I cannot believe the hypocrisy of the NDP. Each time we try to work with first nations communities and put money aside in the budget, what do the NDP members do? They vote against it.

The member said earlier that we are making cuts to the health transfers to the provinces and territories. Actually, we are making a 6% increase per year, but each time we do that, the NDP votes against it.

It is our government that takes the misuse of prescription drugs seriously, and we are taking action. The pharmaceutical company that produces OxyContin, made a decision to cease distribution of that product and to replace it with OxyNEO, which is particularly harder to abuse because it is in a gel capsule.

Our NIHB program will automatically approve clients previously claiming OxyContin to use OxyNEO. Being mindful of the health and safety of Canadians, individuals should always consult their medical professionals and follow their directions.

However, individuals obtaining OxyContin from illegal sources may be affected when the drug is removed from the market. We will ensure that primary care supports are in place for short-term stabilization and monitoring of individuals who are going through opiate withdrawal.

Our government provides $90 million annually for addictions programming, including funding to support a network of treatment centres for first nations. We will continue to fund prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment supports and services.

We hope that one day the NDP will actually take the issue seriously and help support first nations people and vote with the government for these very important programs.

7:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Pursuant to Standing Order 81(4), the motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been withdrawn. The House will now resolve itself into committee of the whole for the purpose of considering all votes under National Defence in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013.

I do now leave the chair for the House to resolve itself into committee of the whole.

(Consideration in committee of the whole of all votes under National Defence in the main estimates, Ms. Denise Savoie in the chair)

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

May 9th, 2012 / 7:40 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Denise Savoie

I would like to open this session of committee of the whole by making a short statement.

Tonight's debate is being held under Standing Order 81(4)(a) which provides for each of two sets of estimates selected by the Leader of the Opposition to be considered in committee of the whole for up to four hours.

For some members, this may be the first time they participate in such a debate. Therefore, I would like to explain how we will proceed.

Tonight's debate is a general one on all of the votes under National Defence. The first round will begin with the usual rotation, with the official opposition followed by the government and the Liberal Party. After that, we will follow the usual proportional rotation.

Each member will be allocated 15 minutes at a time, which may be used both for debate and for posing questions. Should members wish to use this time to make a speech, it can last a maximum of 10 minutes, leaving at least 5 minutes for questions to the minister.

When a member is recognized, he or she should indicate to the Chair how the 15 minute period will be used, in other words, what portion will be used for speeches and what portions for questions and answers.

Members should also note that they will need the unanimous consent of the House if they wish to split their time with another member.

When the time is to be used for questions and answers, the Chair will expect that the minister's response will reflect approximately the time taken by the question, since this time will be counted in the time originally allotted to the member.

Though members may speak more than once, the Chair will generally try to ensure that all members wishing to speak are heard before inviting members to speak again, while respecting the proportional party rotations for speakers.

Members need not be in their own seats to be recognized.

As your Chair, I shall be guided by the rules of the committee of the whole. However, in the interest of a full exchange, I am prepared to exercise discretion and flexibility in the application of these rules. The Chair will expect all hon. members to focus on the subject matter of the debate, the main estimates of the Department of National Defence.

I also wish to indicate that in committee of the whole, ministers and members should be referred to by their title or riding name and all remarks should, as usual, be addressed through the Chair.

I ask for everyone's co-operation in upholding the established standards to parliamentary language and behaviour.

At the conclusion of tonight's debate, the committee will rise, the estimates under National Defence will be deemed reported and the House will adjourn immediately until tomorrow.

We will now begin tonight's session of the House in committee of the whole pursuant to Standing Order 81(4)(a), the first appointed day, consideration in the committee of the whole of all votes under National Defence in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013.

For the first comment, or statement, the hon. member for St. John's East.

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

7:45 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Madam Chair, I am happy to begin the evening's activities by using my time to ask questions. We have a lot of questions and I will not be speechifying.

I would like to start by asking the minister if he could deal with the section of the Auditor General's most recent report on the F-35s. In paragraph 254 of the report, it states that in 2008 the minister's department took an options analysis of three contending aircraft for the replacement of the F-18, based against high level mandatory capabilities and concluded that all three of the aircraft that were tested met the high level mandatory capabilities.

Could the minister confirm that this was the case and tell us what the other two aircraft were, because I understand the F-35 was one of the three?

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

7:45 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Madam Chair, the situation with respect to the F-35, we are being guided by the findings and the recommendation made by the Auditor General. It is our intent to engage the secretariat. We have already done so.

With respect to the going forward plan, we have a seven point strategic plan of action. The answers to most of these items will be forthcoming once the secretariat does its work.

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

7:50 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Madam Chair, I would like to ask the minister, who was minister at the time in 2008, if could he confirm that the Eurofighter and the Boeing Super Hornet were the other two aircraft, as has been reported in the press.

Perhaps the minister who was minister at the time in 2008 could answer that question.

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

7:50 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, I am happy to assist the hon. member opposite. Again, no decisions have been made with respect to the selection of a replacement for the aging CF-18 aircraft. That work will be forthcoming once we have the secretariat's findings with respect to the issues that the Auditor General brought forward in his recommendations to that effect.

Decisions with respect to replacement aircraft for those CF-18 will be made at that time.

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

7:50 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Madam Chair, could the minister tell us whether any documentation was provided to the Minister of Defence, who was minister at the time, supporting the conclusions made by the Department of National Defence that the F-35 provided the lowest cost and unparalleled benefits for the Canadian aerospace industry?

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

7:50 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, again, with respect to the future decisions to be made, they will be forthcoming once the secretariat has done the work that the Auditor General has requested.

We are committed to ensuring that the seven point action plan is followed and decisions will be forthcoming once those answers are provided.

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

7:50 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Madam Chair, I can see what kind of night this is going to be.

Could the Minister of National Defence confirm the information that we have received, that the CF-18s have now been programmed to operate until 2025, that the department is actually engaging contracts to ensure that the CF-18s can continue to fly until 2025, and that this is part of the plan of the government?

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

7:50 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, again, contingency plans are being developed. We are in a position of having to make some of the decisions once other answers are forthcoming. There is work being done. We are following the recommendations of the Auditor General. The secretariat will be providing information that will enable us to make those decisions.

However, we are very committed to ensuring that there will be no gap with respect to our ability to provide air fighter capabilities for Canada going forward.

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

7:50 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Madam Chair, has the Department of National Defence let any contracts or engaged any contractors to continue the operation of the F-18s until 2025?

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

7:50 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, if I may, the CF-18s will continue to be an effective fighter aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force until the 2020 time frame, thanks to the extensive modernization that has taken place on the fleet.

If the substitute aircraft is acquired, the delivery plan will be based on the most cost effective point in the production schedule, so as there will not be any gaps.

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

7:50 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Madam Chair, clearly the minister is talking about the F-35.

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

7:50 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, that decision has not been made as has been stated many times. There have been no moneys expended in the purchase of a replacement aircraft at this point in time.

We are, of course, as I stated earlier, committed to ensuring that we follow the recommendation made by the Auditor General. That work is being done as we speak. We anxiously await those answers to make further decisions.

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

7:50 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Madam Chair, the minister clearly referred to fitting into a production schedule. The only production schedule that we know about is the F-35. Will he say that he was talking about the F-35 here?

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

7:50 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, I am talking about a replacement aircraft, whatever that might be. There would have to be scheduling taken into account. It is premature at this point in time to make a definitive conclusion as to what replacement aircraft will follow.

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

7:55 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Madam Chair, on April 11, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence told CBC that there would be no contract signed for a replacement until 2017 or 2018, when we are approaching the signing of a purchase agreement. The minister confirmed there will be no contracts signed until 2017 or 2018 for the purchase of replacement aircraft for the CF-18s.

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

7:55 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, there has been no contract signed with respect to the purchase of replacement aircraft for our aging CF-18s.

The only agreements that have been entered into are those that lend Canada and eight other countries to work on a joint program to develop a next generation aircraft. Canada has not made any purchase or any commitment to purchase at this point in time that would lend credibility to a contract being in place.

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

7:55 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Madam Chair, perhaps the minister did not understand or hear what I said, so I will repeat it again.

I have a transcript here of what the parliamentary secretary said. He said, “I can't confirm what the cost assumption will be in 2017 or 18 when we're approaching the signing of a purchase agreement”.

Will the minister confirm that there will be no purchase agreements signed before that 2017-18 time frame?

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

7:55 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, the operative word, view and reality is that no contract has yet been signed. We will make that decision upon the time frame when the secretariat will have done the work required, as recommended by the Auditor General. Until that point in time, any definitive time frame is really speculation.

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

7:55 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Madam Chair, if the government members are going to continue stonewalling, I may as well ask more questions they can stonewall.

Could the minister tell us what the actual latest figure is for industrial benefits for the proposed F-35 purchase? Figures like $14.7 billion or $12 billion have been used and we are now down to $9.8 billion in terms of potential industrial benefits for Canadian industry. Could the minister tell us what the real figure is and what the actual projections are today?

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

7:55 p.m.

Conservative

Julian Fantino Conservative Vaughan, ON

Madam Chair, we have not signed any contract as yet. We are engaged, as was stated, with eight other partner nations in the development of the aircraft. There are considerable benefits being derived for the aerospace industry in our country as we speak. However, the final outcome of all this will be determined once we enter, finally, if we do, into an agreement to purchase the F-35.