Mr. Chair, I want to let you know that the three slots allocated to the Bloc Québécois will be taken by three members of our party and will be used mainly for questions.
My first question for the minister concerns the reopening of the Royal Military College Saint-Jean. The minister came, I believe with the former minister of public works, to announce the partial reopening of the military college, which the Liberal government had closed in 1995. By partial reopening, I mean that the Royal Military College does not have the same status it had when it was closed. Allow me to explain. When the facility was closed, it had university status, but the two ministers came to announce that it would have college status.
Second—and this is something we have repeatedly talked about with the minister—the college used to have a budget of about $25 million, but its current budget is about $12 million. I am sure the minister knows that last weekend, there was the first partial reopening parade of cadets in the preparatory year and first year. I sensed that people were proud, even very proud, to see soldiers on the parade ground again. I think that when we talk about pride, there are no half measures. The college needs to regain its former pride with full status as a university military college and with its former budget.
Moreover, I am told, and perhaps the minister can confirm this, that work is about to start in Kingston. Space will be needed for the soldiers, and Saint-Jean might provide that space. Many senior military people also say that the time has come to reopen the military college. I would add that the number of francophone officer cadets in the Canadian Forces has peaked and is declining.
My question for the minister is this: is it not time to reopen the military college with full university status and with its former budget?