Mr. Speaker, it is truly a great privilege to be here with you and my hon. colleague on this historic evening to talk about one of this government's important priorities.
However, the opposition does not agree, once again, with our program to replace the CF-18s, which have served the Royal Canadian Air Force and Canada very well. The opposition says that it is the wrong program. It is not apologizing for keeping us here all night to vote on the extensive budget we have just passed and that we have worked so hard on.
I would like to insist on the fact that Wednesday, June 13, which is still under way in the House, is a historic day for the program to replace the CF-18 jets. Our government is keeping its promises with today's announcement of the creation of a National Fighter Procurement Secretariat for Canada.
It is great to be able to have this opportunity. We made this promise a couple of months ago. It has taken time to assembly the right people, the right outside expertise, including a former Auditor General of Canada who is joining the team on the secretariat, as well as all the relevant departments. It has taken time to make sure that we are actually hitting the standards that we know we can hit in the Government of Canada and that we have hit before in military procurement for the national shipbuilding program.
As the member well knows, we have been a partner in the joint strike fighter program since 1997. That has brought enormous benefits to Canada. The member's leader disagrees and does not think there are jobs flowing from this program. There are. We will continue to show it and prove it. Canadians know it.
In 2008, the Government of Canada announced its intent to replace the CF-18 fleet with next generation fighter capability. That was part of the Canada first defence strategy. In July 2010, we announced our intent to acquire the F-35 aircraft. We do not apologize for any of that. It is history. It is part of our policy. It is part of our program to replace the CF-18, which has been going on under two governments for over a decade.
The Auditor General's report of this spring is also history. Its recommendation was important. We accept it. We accept the conclusions. That is why we are going beyond that, by not only agreeing to put forward full life-cycle costs but also establishing a seven-point plan which this secretariat will oversee.
In conclusion, let me just emphasize the role of this secretariat.
The secretariat will be responsible for reviewing, monitoring and coordinating the implementation of the government's seven-point action plan. There will be key roles with respect to transparency, impartiality and reports to Parliament and to the public. The secretariat's initial overall costs will be available in the fall. The secretariat will provide the due diligence that Canada deserves and that the government is responsible for delivering in such cases.