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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

Supply May 7th, 2002

Mr. Chairman, that is not correct. I take commercial aircraft when I go to my riding. However there are times the Challenger may pick me up in Toronto when I am going on a trip overseas. Quite frequently I might go to Toronto on a weekend on a commercial aircraft but Monday morning I may start a trip to Europe or some such place and the aircraft might come there to pick me up.

I do not think the hon. member is interpreting the information correctly. If I am making a straight trip between Ottawa and my constituency I do not use the Challenger.

Supply May 7th, 2002

Mr. Chairman, I do not think so but I have not measured my usage of it versus that of other people.

The hon. member should point out that a lot of people on his side of the House and in his party have used it. I was on a Challenger not too long ago that the opposition leader was on. If members opposite want to say I have been using it what is wrong with me saying the opposition uses it too? The opposition leader has used it.

I do not understand how opposition members can get into this kind of hypocritical direction when they use the Challengers themselves. They have asked for rides on the Challengers. They are there primarily to move government members but when we get an opportunity to have members of the opposition on them we do not mind. We are all trying to serve the people of the country.

Opposition members should be careful where they point their fingers. One thing about pointing a finger is that three fingers point back. That is what is happening over there.

Supply May 7th, 2002

Mr. Chairman, as I have indicated, it did not come out of the military budget. The defence department has responsibilities for things other than the Canadian forces and the military budget. One of these is the Challenger service provided for members of cabinet, the Prime Minister and the Governor General. This does not come out of any budget for ammunition or uniforms. It does not affect Sea King helicopter replacements or any military program whatsoever. All the money that comes from the departmental budget to make the purchase is reimbursed entirely from the centre.

However there are provisions for spending when we approach the year end for which we must follow the guidelines established by the Department of Finance including those the auditor general feels are necessary for proper accounting procedures.

Supply May 7th, 2002

Mr. Chairman, there are options for different kinds of operations. In some cases it would be suitable to have the desert camouflage. As it has turned out, however, in the operations in Afghanistan they have spent more time in the hills, in the mountains and in areas that are not part of the desert in terms of their operations. Since they do a fair bit of their work at night the uniforms they have turned out to be quite suitable. There may be other circumstances where the desert uniform would become more useful.

Part of the clothe the soldier program is to have the temperate green, which is what they are using now, to have a similar desert camouflage version and to have one that would be used in the Arctic or in other type of mountainous wintry conditions. There would be three sets of uniforms.

The clothe the soldier program, which has been going on for the past few years, is at the stage of providing for those uniforms. They have not been completed yet in terms of their manufacture. As it has turned out, the uniforms they have are quite suitable.

The hon. member is again forgetting that an allocation was made. We looked at all the things we could do with the year end money. The Minister of Finance does not know exactly how much he will have at the end of the year but we spent as much as we possibly could, and $300 million was allocated. It would not have been possible to spend another $100 million by the end of the fiscal year.

Supply May 7th, 2002

Mr. Chairman, within the restrictions of the fiscal policies, this money would not have been used for any defence purpose. There is not one program that is not covered because of this expenditure.

Under the same provisions, toward the end of the year some $300 million was provided for the defence department and was indeed spent.

The question he raised concerning ammunition and uniforms was not correct at all. We have certainly indicated to the Canadian forces that whatever they need they should be able to get. There was a timing issue to the change to the new uniform, in terms of the version that could be used in Afghanistan, just not being ready. It was not a question of resources or of money. It was a question of manufacturing time and being able to get it done.

The uniforms they have in Afghanistan are really quite suitable. In fact if we look at the Americans who wear desert camouflage uniforms, they put equipment and vests over top of them that are of the dark green variety.

Those members are really making a mountain out of a molehill over this. The uniforms that our troops have are modern, up to date and really quite satisfactory.

Supply May 7th, 2002

Mr. Chairman, that is simply not true. Money that we were allocated toward the end of the fiscal year was spent just as much as we possibly could on our needs. There were more revenues at the end of the year, as we have heard from the Minister of Finance. This became an opportunity to provide this upgrade in the Challenger fleet, which is not just used for me. The member personalizes it but it is used by the Governor General, the Prime Minister and all ministers in connection with important government travel as part of our job. This was an opportunity to get something that was more cost efficient, that would use less fuel, that would be able to fly non-stop to many destinations and even use shorter runways, which gives us more of an opportunity for a wider range of use in other parts of Canada.

It is not a luxurious aircraft. It is a Canadian aircraft. We should be using Canadian aircraft as our fleet for this kind of travel purpose. It will have the same kind of outfitting as the current Challengers have. It is by no means a luxury at all. It is a more efficient aircraft. It is not adding to the fleet; it is replacing two of the older ones in the fleet.

Supply May 7th, 2002

Mr. Chairman, it was toward the end of the fiscal year and moneys that are still in the revenue fund at the end of the fiscal year go against the debt.

There was no money that could have been used at that point in time with respect to defence expenditures. There was other money that was allocated toward the end of the fiscal year and was in fact used for defence expenditures. However, it would not have been able to have been used for any other defence expenditures. It would have been required to be used by the end of the fiscal year.

Supply May 7th, 2002

Mr. Chairman, the member is very wrong in how he is characterizing this. It is not at the expense of the Canadian forces. It is not at the expense of the replacement of the Sea King helicopters. This is money that is being reimbursed from the central treasury to the Department of National Defence. it is not money being taken from any project whatsoever.

It does not delay the Sea King procurement one day at all. The $2 billion that is required for the Sea King purchase has already been provided. In no way does it affect that or the purchase of any other equipment whatsoever. The money is all being provided by the central treasury.

Supply May 7th, 2002

Mr. Chairman, there is a report that has been noted within the department that deals with the Challenger fleet and its capabilities. It talks about its safety and its reliability and affirms that is the case.

As I said a few moments ago, the reason they were purchased was to upgrade the fleet's capacity in terms of fuel efficiency, fuel capacity and ability to fly non-stop to Europe which is a time saver. It is not a matter of the older ones not being able to perform a function. It is a matter of an upgrade. It was a decision of the government to have that upgrade carried out. It is not adding two aircraft. It is replacing two aircraft with new ones that can go farther and operate more efficiently.

Supply May 7th, 2002

Mr. Chairman, it is a matter of a cabinet decision. It is in the cabinet record. We do not talk about the process of cabinet decisions. They are within the confidence of the privy council. That is a tradition of this government and all previous governments. It is part of our system. The government stands and stands for its decision. This is a decision of the Government of Canada.

The member is trying to probe within the decision making process of cabinet. That is a matter that is in the confidence of cabinet.