November 5, 1979


Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and the House went into committee thereon, Mr. McCain in the chair. On clause 1-


LIB

Herb Breau

Liberal

Mr. Breau:

Mr. Chairman, as we begin consideration of clause 1 in Committee of the Whole, could the parliamentary secretary indicate exactly where the changes are? I understand that there are some changes in this bill in the ways and means motion of this Parliament as compared to the motion in the previous Parliament. We will give the parliamentary secretary a minute to get organized and for the officials to be seated. Before we go any further, we would like to know what the changes are.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Ronald Stuart (Ron) Ritchie (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ritchie (York East):

Mr. Chairman, 1 will start by giving some of the changes involved, and when the officials arrive I will make sure whether or not I have the complete list. The change on canned pears from Australia has already been mentioned. It extends the phasing out of the preferential tariff by a year and gives a slightly more favourable rate in the

interval than the original ways and means motion of the last Parliament. There is an inclusion, and 1 believe this is a change which is not related to fruit and vegetables. It extends numerous temporary tariff reductions on consumer goods which were scheduled to expire on June 30, 1979. Most of these were originally introduced in the budget of February, 1973, and have been extended from time to time since. The main products subject to these so-called temporary reductions are raw sugar, motor vehicle parts, cameras and films, vacuum cleaners, pharmaceuticals, chinaware, bottles, and hand tools.

These temporary reductions will become permanent when the bill is introduced on the results of the multilateral trade negotiations and is enacted. There is I believe one other change with regard to sugar. The temporary rates on sugar and related products now in effect were based on the recommendations made by the tariff board in its 1971 report on sugar. By virtue of this bill these rates will be continued indefinitely rather than just to June 30, 1980, as provided in Bill C-51 in the last Parliament. Those are the changes about which the hon. member inquired.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Herb Breau

Liberal

Mr. Breau:

While on clause 1 it is customary to make some general comments. The hon. member for Windsor West mentioned to the Minister of Finance that perhaps the other bill could be tabled and, before it is passed to third reading, referred to a committee of the House for detailed study as was done ten years ago when the Kennedy Round was brought before the House. This would do two things: it would give hon. members an opportunity to study the bill in greater detail, and it would facilitate the passage of the bill when it comes before the House again. This is the approach that we hope the government will take. Can the parliamentary secretary tell the House whether that is the government's intention?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Ronald Stuart (Ron) Ritchie (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ritchie (York East):

Mr. Chairman, I have not consulted with the minister on this matter, but I thought about it myself in the interval. It seems to me to be a very sound suggestion. However, subject to checking with the minister, I cannot confirm just what we will be doing.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Aideen Nicholson

Liberal

Miss Nicholson:

Mr. Chairman, what will the situation be with regard to cheese? As part of the GATT negotiations, 1 understand that we agreed to allow the Europeans access to our domestic market. During the election campaign, when the Prime Minister was leader of the opposition, he said in a speech in southern Ontario and one in Quebec that he intended to reduce the import quota on cheese by ten million pounds. 1 am not quite sure at this point whether we can take as the government's intention, the GATT agreement of last June or the Prime Minister's statement when he was leader of the opposition, during the election campaign.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Ronald Stuart (Ron) Ritchie (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ritchie (York East):

Mr. Chairman, I will have to take that question as notice because 1 am not informed on the subject and it is not, of course, affected by the current bill.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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Clause agreed to. On clause 2- November 5, 1979


NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

Mr. Chairman, I would like an explanation. This is a fairly simple section. It reads as follows:

Section 15 of the said act is repealed and the following substituted therefor:

Normally when you are making an amendment to a bill and have it before you, you also have what it amends. In this case, however, we have the following:

15 (1) The minister may order (a) that the specific rate of duty provided for in tariff items 8702-2, 8703-1, 8704-1, 8706-1, 8707-1, 8709-1, 8710-1, 8715-1, 8717-1, 8720-1, 8721-1, 8722-1, 8724-2, 8728-1, 9201-1, 9202-1, 9203-2, 9205-2, 9206-2, 9208-1, 9210-1, 9211-2.

It is continued on the next page where it reads:

__and 9402-1 shall apply in lieu of the ad valorem rate of duty or the free rate

of duty.

Mr. Chairman, we are asked to pass that. What in hell does it mean? What is the point of putting it in there in that form? There is no explanation of what it modifies, and no explanation of any of the figures. Why did they not just put in the numbers from 8702-2 to 9201-1 inclusive? Why did they leave some out? Why is it not a full series of numbers. Now we are going to pass it. Why? What does it say? What does it tell me? What does it tell you? We can go on, as there is a whole lot more.

If anyone here thinks they understand it, I will read it for them, but 1 do not see any sense in reading it. It does not make any sense to me and I do not think it is going to make sense to anybody else. There is nothing to put it against, as the former minister of agriculture pointed out. How are we going to make a tariff change by a number that does not apply to anything, is not related to anything, does not modify anything, and when there is no indication of what product is affected? Can we guess? The hon. lady who spoke a minute ago mentioned cheese. Is that 8704-1 or 8722-1 or could it be 9211-2?

During the war this kind of code was used to confuse the enemy; here it is used to confuse hon. members. There is no bloody way we should pass this kind of junk, and that is all it is. I do not think I ever remember not having something to put it against. If we are going to modify something we should say what we are modifying. The act is not mentioned nor is the section that is to be modified. The page supplied for notes is blank on what is being modified.

I do not know if this is good or bad, Mr. Chairman. 1 do not know anything about it-I do not know what any of those numbers are. 1 am pretty sure not many Canadians know what the numbers are, either. I do not think there is any sense in me saying, "pass Mr. Chairman, pass, Mr. Chairman"-pass for what reason? If we wanted to give this government a blank cheque we would do so, but we do not need to do it in this form.

We got a little lecture on freedom of information tonight- and 1 agree entirely with it-but Mr. Chairman, this is not freedom of information or freedom of anything else. The explanatory note comprises three lines which read:

This Bill would implement the ways and means motions relating to the Customs Tariff that were tabled by the Minister of Finance on October 23, 1979.

Customs Tariff

I lost the ways and means. 1 asked the Table officer to send me a copy, and he did. It is identical to what is here. It does not tell me anything different. What does tell us something? If the parliamentary secretary wants to tell me what these specific rates of duty provided for in tariff item 8702-2 are, and later is going to tell me about 8703-1, then I would also like to know why 8702-1 is not included? Why do we not do something with that one as well? Maybe he wants to tell me that and maybe he does not. 1 do not know.

We do some very stupid things as members of Parliament, Mr. Chairman. Today I was considering the salary we are paid and I am surprised how highly paid we are for our efficiency. If we were to pass this, it seems to me that we do not deserve any kind of salary. We are being asked to pass something that does not relate to anything and that does not have any yardstick to measure it against-obviously it is modifying something. It reads, "Section 15 of the said act is repealed and the following substituted therefor:". The note in the margin reads, "Application of specific duties or ad valorem rate in certain items." It does not say what they are nor whether they are additions.

Clause 1, which we passed, referred to: "Strawberries or cherries, pickled or preserved in salt, brine, oil or any other manner,". That covers a wide variety of things.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Jake Froese

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Froese:

Mr. Chairman, I rise on a point of order. The schedules are attached to the bill and the numbers are there. I realize they are not the same as they were in former years. I cannot understand the hon. member, with all his years of experience in the House, not knowing what the numbers were in previous years. I personally have looked up the areas that are important to me and I know where the changes have taken place. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, I know what the numbers are. 1 feel the schedule shows the changes that are going to be made, and there must be a record in Parliament of what they were before.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

Mr. Chairman, I am duly chastised, humbled, and highly sorry that I cannot understand it. We are not on the appendix, are we? Maybe I missed something-maybe we have reached the stage of the appendix, or maybe we are going to discuss the appendix separately item by item. If we are at that stage, then I missed something. I was of the opinion that we were on clause 2. If I am, it does not list the appendix in this section. When we come to the appendix I presume we will discuss that. 1 am pleased that the member is familiar with the tariff numbers and that he understands. 1 would guesstimate that there are 250,000 tariff numbers. Maybe that is a conservative figure. In 20 years 1 have not given much attention to memorizing that list. It is not the Canadian Tire catalogue, and 1 am not going to get a prize.

I am still of the opinion that we have listed these numbers but have not indicated what they are put against or to what they apply. Maybe I should ask a very simple question. Why

November 5, 1979

Customs Tariff

do we underline some of them and why do we not underline others? Why is "rate" underlined? Is that a new item?

Now we go on to some of the clauses under proposed section 15, and ad valorem-I suppose that means value, does it? They cannot even write the damn thing in English. It is not even in French. It is written in another foreign language. Whatever it means it says ad valorem. It says here: "rate of duty provided for in tariff items 8718"-they are not in the list-and it carries on to say "shall apply in lieu of the free rate of duty."

Proposed subsection (c) reads:

(c) that the specific rate of duty, or ad valorem minimum rate of duty, as the case may be, provided for in tariff items 10 8702-1, 8705-1, 8708-1, 8712-1, 8720-2, 8724-1, 9203-1, 9205-1, 9206-1, and 9211-I shall apply in lieu of the free rate of duty,

There is an indication that subsection (c) is a substituted section and I would like to know for what it is substituted. Is the underlining showing the changes that were made?

I know this has been translated into the second language, whichever way that is, but we always have room on the other page to put the explanation of what we did. We are not doing that. It seems to me that we can pass this if we want, but we will not have understood it or have done much about it if we do. We are not sure whether it is good or bad. I am not sure. But I am sure that some of these changes must mean something. It does not mean that we have had people in Geneva negotiating GATT agreements, in many cases getting the worst of it for several years. Yet we are going to come up with a total change in our tariff and Customs structure that is obviously not going to be good for everybody. It will be worse for some and better for others. I would like to know first who it will be good for and who it will be bad for: Those things that are good for the people that I represent, I will vote for. But I would have to look seriously at the ones being taken away.

We are all Canadians, but we differ in some respects. Some people depend on agriculture, some on natural resources, and some on manufacturing for their livelihood. I would imagine each of these tariff items will affect something. I would like to know what they are. I do not imagine that when I sit down the parliamentary secretary will tell me what they are. I know that I can look back. But let us take a look at No. 8702-2. This is in schedule I at page eight of Bill C-18. This concerns asparagus processing. My friend knows all about this one, he knows that number off by heart. It says that if it is British Preferential Tariff-and I do not know whether we get asparagus from Great Britain, I would doubt it but maybe we do-asparagus can come in free. On what is it free? What does this mean? Is it free on two cases of asparagus? I do not know. But we are not buying any asparagus. If we get it from the most favoured nation, we will pay V/i cents but not less than 10 per cent, or free. That is nice, but what does it mean? It is not going to be less than 10 per cent, or free. What does it mean?

It does not mean anything to me. It is going to be 3Vi cents but not less than 10 per cent. 1 do not think I can get any asparagus for three cents. Now, if we buy it under "general

tariff' it says V/2 cents but not less than 10 per cent, or free. That has not told me anything. Has it told hon. members anything? Has that told us what it was before? Does it tell us where it was moved from? How do we modify it? To what extent will it apply? However, it does say: "In any 12 month period ending 31st March, the specific duty or ad valorem duty, as the case may be, shall not be maintained in force in excess of 8 weeks, and the Free rate shall apply whenever the specific duty or ad valorem duty is not in effect." What does that tell me? I suppose if I were in the business it would tell me something about it.

I listened with great interest to what the former minister said. He said it would be triggered by the horticultural society. Then he was a little indefinite as to how they were doing it. I may have got confused by him saying that in some cases it took three weeks to make the kind of order they were going to trigger.

It is all very well, but I suppose there is some reason why we made this change. I do not see why we should pass all these numbers. The hon. member may know, but we are not supposed to be flipping to the schedule and the annexe until we come to them. We are supposed to follow some order, confusing and unenlightening as it may be. Before we pass these items we would like to know whether there was any increase or a decrease.

What was the most favoured nation tariff last year? Was it two cents or five cents? I do not know whether or not it was raised. It does not even say plus or minus. It does not say it was increased or decreased. There are some very serious omissions in the way we are presenting these Custom tariff amendments, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to call it ten o,clock so the department can think about these things and perhaps supply some additional information.

Progress reported.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION


A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 40 deemed to have been moved.


SOCIAL SECURITY-REQUEST THAT PRINCIPLE OF UNIVERSALITY OF FAMILY ALLOWANCES BE MAINTAINED

LIB

Monique Bégin

Liberal

Hon. Monique Begin (Saint-Leonard-Anjou):

On October 24 last, Mr. Speaker, I put to the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Crombie) a simple and direct question, to wit whether he was in favour of universal family allowances. As it has been customary for Progessive Conservative ministers

November 5, 1979

ever since they came into power, he spoke entirely beside the question telling me how much he approved the child tax credit created by the Liberals.

Why did I suddenly ask such a question? Because serious rumour in women's organizations and in social planning councils has it that the Progressive Conservatives have decided to remove part of the family allowances to finance their credit, that is some $575 million for the first year.

We saw during the weekend that the cat was again out of the bag as evidenced by an article in the Toronto Star and another in Dimanche-Matin. Even the Prime Minister (Mr. Clark) in Gander was compelled to admit that such an idea was being considered by the Progressive Conservative government. Again today I put my question to the minister who once again answered beside the question, this time referring to the redistribution of income and to poverty. He also deceived the House and the Canadian people when he made them believe that I had myself initiated a review of family programs for children which he only carried on. This is entirely false. The work which I undertook in my former department dealt with the creation of a Canadian guaranteed annual income plan.

As long as an annual income guarantee proposal is not put forward in this House, I will find it unbelievable that a minister whose mandate is to improve the family policy can be so weak in front of his cabinet colleagues as to consider taking the family allowances from certain children. Is the minister for children ready to sacrifice nearly $1 billion in fiscal exemptions for children, and a good part of the $2 billion family allowances, in order to finance the Conservative election promises of his Minister of Finance (Mr. Crosbie)? He would then be on an equal footing with the minister of the underprivileged, which he is at that, who will sell out Canada's poor during a secret meeting of the welfare ministers Monday next, November 12, behind closed doors, at the Four Seasons hotel in Toronto. Is he so weak in cabinet-he who is not even in charge of the committee on social affairs-who is not political minister from Toronto, who is the junior to the future superminister of social development who is not even appointed yet, that he cannot hold his own before the Treasury Board bureaucrats and the economics ministers, who do not give a hoot about the seven million Canadian children who are still receiving family allowances? To whom and for how much will the children's budget be sold out in a country where provincial governments do not develop policies for the support of families, and where 2,000 day care places were lost during last year only? No redistribution policy, Mr. Speaker, and I shall conclude on this, can replace a family policy. And neither should be sacrificed by any minister who cares, who believes in the quality of life.

Family allowances, after all, are but a timid step to promote birth and prove to young couples and especially mothers that our society believes in and wants to help Canadian families. In cases where a couple earns $35,000, Mr. Speaker, the wife

Adjournment Debate

does not get that salary, and often the only cash that goes to the mother is the family allowance cheque.

I therefore conclude on this suggestion: a government that intends to do such a thing and cancel family allowances is totally cut off from the grass roots.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   SOCIAL SECURITY-REQUEST THAT PRINCIPLE OF UNIVERSALITY OF FAMILY ALLOWANCES BE MAINTAINED
Permalink
PC

Stanley Kenneth Schellenberger (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stan Schellenberger (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Health and Welfare):

Mr. Speaker, when the hon. member raised her question about family allowances the other day, the minister made reference to developments a year ago when the hon. member occupied the post of minister of national health and welfare. At that time the hon. member sponsored new legislation which reduced the amount of the universal family allowance from approximately $28, which it would have reached last January under normal escalation, to an even $20 per month. At the same time a new child tax credit was introduced in association with the income tax system under which families could receive an annual amount of up to $200 per child depending on the amount of family income. This was, in effect, a move away from universality and an increased emphasis on selectivity in the provision of child benefits.

We on this side of the House supported that legislation at the time because it represented an attempt to ensure that government assistance to families to meet the costs of raising children was being directed more efficiently toward those with the greatest need. Of course, we recognized this was a new step. It was an experimental step, so to speak, but we felt it was something worth a try, and therefore we supported the legislation in this House.

It may well be that the hon. member may be posing her question in order to give the minister an opportunity to expand on the government's future policy in the child benefit system. He is not prepared to do that at this time, and I think it is reasonable for him to take that position after only a few months in this portfolio. 1 know that the hon. member opposite and her colleagues spent many years studying the child benefit system and possible improvements to it before they were able to come to a decision which led to the legislation a year ago. While the minister does not intend to take as long as his predecessors in coming to conclusions, I think it is only reasonable for him to have a little more time to look into the whole system of child benefits which the Government of Canada administers at this time: the universal family allowance payments, the more selective child tax credit and, of course, the tax exemptions under the income tax system.

I will simply say at this time that the minister is aware of the important role the universal family allowance has played in Canada. He also regards the experience with the child tax credit over the past year to have been an interesting one and something worth careful consideration and assessment. I can assure the House that the whole field of child benefits is one of the minister's priority interests in his portfolio, and he will be giving serious study to possibilities for improving the system. Indeed, this government accords a high priority to social programs generally and to seeking improvements which will

Adjournment Debate

ensure that the needs of Canadians are met as effectively as possible.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   SOCIAL SECURITY-REQUEST THAT PRINCIPLE OF UNIVERSALITY OF FAMILY ALLOWANCES BE MAINTAINED
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NATIONAL DEFENCE-PURCHASE OF NEW FIGHTER AIRCRAFT

LIB

J. Judd Buchanan

Liberal

Hon. Judd Buchanan (London West):

Mr. Speaker, on October 23 of this year I asked the Minister of National Defence (Mr. McKinnon) two questions regarding the new fighter aircraft program. The first dealt with the dearth of industrial benefits being offered by the two contenders on the short list. The second question was directed specifically to the engine problems being encountered with the F16 and the performance problem with the F18A.

When the short list containing these two aircraft was announced last November, the present minister described it as a peculiar choice. Now he seems to be moving with unseemly haste. The minister must be aware-and if he is not, he should consult his colleague, the Minister for Science and Technology (Mr. Grafftey)-that it is absolutely crucial that Canada be assured of solid industrial benefits and offsets when making such a major purchase. There is grave doubt as to whether either the FI6 or the F18A will be able to provide these. We have not been nearly as bloody minded as countries like France and Sweden in using our major military procurements to aid and assist our high technology industries.

Let me deal with the industrial benefits proposed by General Dynamics, the manufacturers of the FI6. Of the $2.3 billion involved in the purchase, only $10 million is for advanced programs and advanced technology. There is absolutely no system or subsystem work. When there are large electronics contracts, they call up "manufacture of card assemblies, castings, ' and other built to print hardware, in other words, a sophisticated form of paint by numbers.

If one assumes that in a modern fighter aircraft about 35 per cent to 40 per cent is for electronics, then the real amount of electronics transmitted on this aircraft is a pitifully small percentage of the total. There is, in short, almost no significant technology transfer. The General Dynamics proposals will guarantee our accelerated obsolescence and continued build-to-print handouts.

The Industry, Trade and Commerce evaluation report which was completed in July of 1979 stated, concerning General Dynamics:

If the attitude displayed by General Dynamics' negotiating team is typical of other aspects of its operations, one would have to be seriously concerned about the seriousness of their intentions to live up to any industrial benefit commitments.

General Dynamics' past record indicates that this concern is well founded.

When General Dynamics sold the FI6 to the NATO consortium in 1976, they made a series of commitments. Let us look briefly at what has happened to them.

The price per aircraft was "not to exceed" $6.09 million. By 1977, each aircraft was costing $11 million. According to the

November 5, 1979

general accounting office in the United States, there is no common understanding of the term "not to exceed". What is being said now is that the price was only a goal-any modifications made to the aircraft would push up the price, and the European countries must in turn pay for all such increases.

General Dynamics also promised 58 per cent in offsets to the European countries-a commitment which would guarantee 25,000 new jobs. An average of only 48.5 per cent has been achieved, with the resulting 11,000 jobs, with no outlook that this number will increase.

The high technology transfer has been, at best, negligible. The European countries have become subcontractors; all the research and development has taken place in the United States. The NATO consortium does little more than assemble parts.

Congressman Jack Edwards, the leading Republican on the house appropriations defence subcommittee, said recently that the engine problems "leave us in a right disastrous position", to use his words, and that if he were building the F-16 powered by this engine, "I'd be nervous". To add insult to injury, strikes at the Pratt & Whitney plant together with a shortage of parts mean that by the end of this year planes will be delivered with "gaping holes where the engines should be".

The other contender on the short list is the F-18A, built by McDonnell Douglas. Here again, there would be no high technology transfer for Canadians. McDonnell Douglas has included a $507.5 million package of Standard DC-9 and DC-10 work. This "offset" is clearly outside the guidelines established for the NFA program. So far as the aerospace subsystem work is concerned, again the ITC evaluation stated that:

Neither company's industrial benefits in this category are considered to make an adequate contribution to a life cycle support capability in Canada, nor do they extend the technological expertise of the eventual Canadian industrial participant.

The F-18A is now running into significant cost overruns on the U.S. order of 1,366 planes.

Serious deficiencies are showing up during the test stages of the plane. Of major concern is the combat radius and range shortfall. The F-18A is having to come home early because of its inability to stay in the air; there is a range loss of between 10 per cent and 15 per cent. The U.S. navy does not know why they are seeing this loss of range. Nor is the F-18A achieving a proper speed of acceleration. What is specifically important here is the fact that the aircraft cannot get to the sector of the area where the intruder is. The enemy may be out of radar range and the radar of the aircraft then cannot pick it up.

On Friday last, there was an accident involving the landing gear on the F-18A. The plane had gone through two days of testing on an aircraft carrier; however, when it came to make its first land approach, the landing gear broke. Because the landing gear is so complex, there could be serious problems and expense involved in maintaining the aircraft in a land role, which is the stance for which Canada intends to use the aircraft. We think it would substantially and significantly push up its life cycle costs. There is clear evidence that there is no

November 5, 1979

effective competition between the two contending aircraft. The potential industrial benefits package does virtually nothing for Canada's high technology industry. Moreover, both aircraft show serious deficiencies in their performance capabilities. In view of this, I urge the minister to add the F-18L to his short list. We would be in on the ground floor. It would offer significant technological advantage for Canadian industry. I feel strongly that that is something members on all sides of the House would like to support.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE-PURCHASE OF NEW FIGHTER AIRCRAFT
Permalink
PC

A. Daniel McKenzie (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence; Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dan McKenzie (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs):

Mr. Speaker, I think the only gaping holes we have are in the presentation made by the hon. member this evening. I have complete confidence in the Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. McKinnon) and his officials. They will not buy any aircraft with landing gear falling off, or gaping holes. The hon. member can be assured that we will ensure industrial benefits for every province in Canada.

On October 23 the Minister of National Defence replied to a question by the hon. member for London West (Mr. Buchanan) regarding an article which appeared in the Washington Post. The article in question reported upon delivery delays and other problems being encountered with the engine which powers the General Dynamics F-16 aircraft, one of two finalists being considered by Canada in the new fighter aircraft competition. Having now had an opportunity to examine the article, the minister asked me to elaborate upon his earlier reply, which I am pleased to do.

For the past 2'h years, the fighter aircraft project team of the government has been investigating both the F-16 and F-18A aircraft in most minute detail. Before any decision is made by the minister, I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that he will have received a very comprehensive assessment of the situation, and that this factor will be considered carefully in the government's forthcoming selection of a new fighter aircraft, together with many other factors which affect the decision, including all aspects pertaining to both final contenders.

It is worth bringing out that two separate problems were discussed in the article. The first involved late deliveries of new engines to the United States air force because of extended strikes at two American companies supplying components to the engine manufacturer. Both strikes are now over, and there is no reason to doubt this problem will be cleared up by the time Canada starts receiving CF-16s in mid-1982, should that aircraft win the competion. The second problem involved technical difficulties with the engine itself. I can only reiterate that all technical aspects will be examined fully before the final decision is made.

1 am reluctant to say more at this time because of the highly competitive stage we are currently at in this lengthy competition. I can assure the hon. member that there will not be a repeat of the Liberal disaster in purchasing LRP aircraft for Canada, in which there was complete disarray among all

Adjournment Debate

government departments and costs were very, very high to the Canadian public. I assure the House that the present minister will not repeat the past mistakes of the former government.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE-PURCHASE OF NEW FIGHTER AIRCRAFT
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REGIONAL ECONOMIC EXPANSION-FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR MINE IN CAPE BRETON

November 5, 1979