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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was forces.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for York Centre (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 71% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Question No. 136 May 21st, 2002

The Government of Canada will make certain that the G-8 summit in Kananaskis will benefit from all of the security resources necessary to ensure the safety of participants and the success of the meetings.

For security reasons it is not the policy of the Government of Canada to disclose the specific activities and locations of Joint Task Force 2. The release of such information would hinder the ability of the Government of Canada to respond to incidents at any time, including potentially during the G-8 summit.

Privilege May 9th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, as I received no notice of this, I would like the opportunity, if you deem it needs to go further, to respond in a more detailed fashion to what the member has put before you. However I do not believe it has any merit whatsoever.

I have expressed to the House the hope that by the end of this year we would know the name of the helicopter. I stand by that. Can we get the helicopter by 2005? I think that is still quite possible. That is what the government is aiming for.

We are talking about our goals and aims. I have said that there has been slippage in the timeframe for it but I have also indicated that we hope, once the identity of the helicopter is known and that part of the competition is completed, we will be able to make up time in the balance of the process.

That is the government position. He cites a number of official reports but those are reports of officials. They do not reflect the government position. Those are reports that officials have given to us. Yes, Mr. Williams has indicated to me that if we are not in a position to accelerate the process then we will be beyond 2005. However he has also indicated to me that there is the possibility that we could accelerate the process.

Until we get beyond this next phase, which will help determine which helicopter we will purchase in this procurement process, we do not know precisely what date we are talking about. Therefore we are not changing our aims with respect to when we want to have the helicopter. We want it as soon as we possibly can.

That is my preliminary response to the member's statement. Certainly, Mr. Speaker, if you intend to proceed with this any further I would want to respond in a more fulsome fashion, although I cannot imagine why that statement has any merit.

National Defence May 9th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, we do not need to do it today because we did it right from day one.

These are not five star hotel or restaurant facilities by any means. It is a very desolate place over there. However our troops are doing their job. They are getting three meals a day. There is a cafeteria operation there. When they are out in the field they do get food rations. I have experienced some of that food myself.

I can tell members that every effort is being made to ensure that the nutrition is appropriate and they are properly fed and properly clothed.

Supply May 7th, 2002

Mr. Chairman, the diesel submarines are very quiet. The Upholder class is a state of the art submarine. It is very quiet. Stealth is important in underwater operations. Nuclear submarines are not as quiet or as stealthy as the diesel ones are.

The United States, which has a nuclear fleet, is interested in training with the diesel fleets. The Americans are happy that we are proceeding on this purchase because our navies do work closely together, above and below the surface. We are anxious to get these up and operating. There have been some delays.

It is a very complex piece of equipment. Any time a complex piece of equipment is brought into existence it takes time. It took the Australians 15 years to get theirs into operation. We will get ours into operation in five or six years. They will serve us well for a long period of time. We want to ensure that they are ready to serve this country and that they are ready to perform the kinds of functions that we want them to. We want to ensure that they are safe for our submariners.

Supply May 7th, 2002

We do not change it. The statement of requirements that was adopted by the Canadian forces and submitted to the government was adopted without any change by the government. We are operating on a statement of requirements that the Canadian forces say represents what they need in terms of a maritime helicopter.

We have been moving through the various stages. We have taken the statement of requirements and put it into technical specifications. We have been consulting with the industry because we want to ensure that the industry has every opportunity to bid on this because we want a competition.

We want to get the best possible price. The Conservative government under Brian Mulroney, to which the hon. member belongs to now, wanted to go out and buy a more expensive helicopter than the one we will be buying. The helicopter that party wanted to buy would have not been relevant to what our needs are today. We will get what we need for now and for the future, which better meets the requirements of the Canadian forces.

Supply May 7th, 2002

The member likes to talk about the age of the Sea Kings. As I indicated earlier, the B-52 bomber is an example of an aircraft that is still in service in the United States and it is over 40 years of age. It is not a matter of age. It is a matter of how good the aircraft is, how good the frame is and how well it is maintained and upgraded. It is good to note the United States in terms of the Sea Kings or the B-52 because the United States has more money in its military than dozens of other countries combined. The Americans have every capability and opportunity to buy the newest equipment, yet they recognize that a machine that is working well, that is still functioning and can be well maintained is worth keeping in their inventory and they do exactly that.

The hon. member is absolutely right. There are in fact numerous Sea Kings that are still in operation.

We recognize that they are getting to the end of their useful life. It is not so much the question of age. Age is somewhat of a factor but it is mainly the question of their capability. It is time to upgrade that capability. We have modern state of the art frigates. We need to have modern state of the art helicopters on the back because the maritime helicopter on the back of the frigate actually extends the capability of patrol of the frigate some 12 times. For about one-tenth of the cost of the frigate, we get a helicopter that extends its surveillance area some 12 times and that makes a lot of sense. However we have to have the up to date equipment so we are into the procurement process.

Supply May 7th, 2002

The United States navy took delivery of its Sea Kings. They go from 1960 to 1969, so they have a few years on them as well.

I saw a photograph of the British marines in Afghanistan in the campaign and they were getting out of a Sea King. They bought their Sea Kings as far back as 1969. As I said, 23 countries have them. There are some 600 of them.

We used to see those photographs on the back lawn of the White House with the president of the United States climbing into his Sea King helicopter. We used to see Bill Clinton do that. I have not seen George Bush do it. Since September 11 they do not allow photographs any more. We are not sure if he is still using it, but we have certainly seen many photographs in the past. They had enough confidence in the United States to have their president in a Sea King helicopter.

Supply May 7th, 2002

Mr. Chairman, it is not a question of age. If the hon. member knew anything about aircraft, he would know it was not just a question about age. He would know that it is also a question of how well we maintain these aircraft. They are well maintained because we have good people to maintain them.

Out our pilots have said “We would not fly an aircraft that was dangerous”. “We always err on the side of caution”. “I have no concerns”. “I have all the confidence in the world in the aircraft”. “I have no concerns whatever with regard to the maintainability and operability of the Sea King”. “It is quite a robust aircraft”. “It is quite good at what it does”.

These quotes came from pilots. There are some 23 countries that fly the Sea Kings, not just our country.

Supply May 7th, 2002

That is quite true, Mr. Chairman. As I indicated earlier we have invested some $75 million in upgrades. We have invested $50 million to upgrade the gearboxes and other components that help ensure the safety and reliability of the Sea King. Another $25 million has also been invested to upgrade the avionics. They are performing exceedingly well in the Arabian Sea from the back of our ships, carrying our--

Supply May 7th, 2002

Mr. Chairman, I thank the member for the question. I think that it again illustrates how the opposition will say that I spend a lot of time defending all these things, but they always look on the bleak side of things. If the cup is half full, they will say it is half empty. They are not recognizing what the government has done.

There is more to do but the government has done a lot in terms of equipment. In fact, to support what the hon. member just said, let me quote Lieutenant-General Jeffery, commander of the army. He is not here but he has been mentioned often enough. He said in terms of equipment “...I cannot remember a time when we were better off”. He said that on February 22 of this year.

There is a lot of new equipment. Yes, there is stuff that still needs replacing and still needs upgrading. There is no doubt about that, but the government has moved to increase the capital spending budget to be able to provide for the kind of equipment we need and we are going to continue that.