October 8, 2004

LIB

Dominic LeBlanc

Liberal

Hon. Dominic LeBlanc (Beauséjour, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the new provincial MLA for Shediac—Cap Pelé, Victor Boudreau.

Victor won a very important byelection in New Brunswick this week. The Liberal Party and its leader, Shawn Graham, prevailed despite the sustained efforts made by Conservative ministers and MLAs.

Victor Boudreau's strong victory shows that the people of Shediac--Cap Pelé recognize his energy, integrity and commitment to the citizens of this riding.

Victor will be an outstanding MLA and will represent Shediac--Cap Pelé in an exceptional way for many years. I congratulate Victor, his wife Michelle, and their daughters, Dominique and Gabrielle, as they begin their new life in provincial politics

Topic:   Statements by Members
Subtopic:   Victor Boudreau
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NDP

Bill Siksay

New Democratic Party

Mr. Bill Siksay (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, the Supreme Court of Canada held its hearings this week on the government's reference on same sex marriage. The government argued in support of lesbian and gay marriage and the minister has said clearly there is no ambiguity, so why the reference?

It is time to quit stalling. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees equality to all Canadians. Denying lesbian and gay couples the equal right to marry is a denial of our full human rights.

At this moment 82% of Canadians live in jurisdictions with equal marriage. I urge the government to respect the right of loving, committed lesbian and gay couples to celebrate our relationships in marriage.

It is time for the government to respect the charter and change the law. The Minister of Justice must demonstrate the courage of his convictions and table legislation immediately.

Topic:   Statements by Members
Subtopic:   Marriage
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CPC

Peter MacKay

Conservative

Mr. Peter MacKay (Central Nova, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, HMCS Chicoutimi is now being towed to port.

Can the Prime Minister update the House on the health of the 54 submariners and conditions on board? When can we expect the submarine to return to port and what is the condition of the injured crewmen?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member has just pointed out, the Chicoutimi is now being towed toward Scotland. We have been informed that although things on board are not very comfortable, all is well. I should also say that the two injured sailors in hospital are in stable condition. As the hon. member undoubtedly knows, one of them is in fairly serious condition.

I can also report that plans for returning Lieutenant Saunders' remains are being finalized. In accordance with his family's wishes, there will be a military funeral. We expect the body to arrive on Sunday.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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CPC

Peter MacKay

Conservative

Mr. Peter MacKay (Central Nova, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, we appreciate the Prime Minister's updated information. My question is for the Minister of National Defence.

An internal review from his department of the submarine project noted that the purchase and reactivation was “wrongly” considered a “low risk”. It goes on to state that the risks associated with this procurement have been underestimated.

The government has known this for over a year and the alarm bells were ringing, yet the government ignored those warnings. What was done to mitigate the risks before the HMCS Chicoutimi was cleared to leave port for Canada and cross the north Atlantic unescorted?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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LIB

Bill Graham

Liberal

Hon. Bill Graham (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, what was done, as the chief of maritime staff has told me, was that the ship was put through extremely rigorous tests in predeparture sea trials, both within the vicinity of the harbour and then longer trials where everything was checked, both with the British suppliers and with the naval staff on board.

This ship would not have left port if it had not been determined by a competent captain and by superior officers that it was fit to make the traverse across the Atlantic. It never would have left port in the first place if it had not been considered fit.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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CPC

Peter MacKay

Conservative

Mr. Peter MacKay (Central Nova, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the HMCS Chicoutimi was not fit.

The litany of problems with the submarine project have been highlighted for years. A defence department memo notes that it would have been faster to build new ones. The recent problems of the Chicoutimi appear to have been class wide. The delays and additional expense have hurt naval operational capacity for years.

How did the government so badly underestimate these problems and costs associated with the submarine purchase? When will we see a full inquiry on all aspects of the purchase and repairs of these submarines in the House of Commons?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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LIB

Bill Graham

Liberal

Hon. Bill Graham (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that there have been problems with these submarines, but we have always been advised by the naval staff that they are capable of managing these problems and that these were the best submarines they could get for the purposes they wanted them. We needed submarines. These are therefore what the navy wanted. This is what the navy is pursuing to make work for the capacity of our armed services.

If the defence committee or any other committee of the House chooses to investigate all circumstances around the purchases of these submarines, of course the government will cooperate completely with parliamentary committees, as we always do.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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CPC

Gordon O'Connor

Conservative

Mr. Gordon O'Connor (Carleton—Mississippi Mills, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, during the last election the Prime Minister dismissed the need for substantial investment in defence. This ongoing attitude toward the military is seen in the mismanagement and underfunding of a range of defence capabilities. The most recent example is the sad state of our submarine fleet, which has unresolved fleet-wide problems.

Will the Minister of National Defence assure the House that until he knows that the electrical fire problem does not apply to all submarines, the safety of the crews will be paramount and the fleet will stay in port?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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LIB

Bill Graham

Liberal

Hon. Bill Graham (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, in the first case, the premise of the question ignores entirely that since the Prime Minister came into office, he has committed to spending some $7 billion on improving the equipment to our armed services, updating some of the best equipment we could possibly have.

In its electoral platform, this party agreed for the first time that we are going to increase our forces by 5,000 regulars and 3,000 reservists, giving us greater capacity. In so far as whether these submarine fleets are put to sea, I rest my case and put my faith in the maritime command who are the professionals that make these decisions.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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CPC

Gordon O'Connor

Conservative

Mr. Gordon O'Connor (Carleton—Mississippi Mills, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, there have been indications that the oxygen canister system in the submarine fleet may be potentially unsafe and a possible source of fire.

Will the minister confirm that this is true? If so, was corrective action taken to ensure the oxygen system was modified to make it safe before HMCS Chicoutimi went to sea?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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LIB

Bill Graham

Liberal

Hon. Bill Graham (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I could not speak to a specific system on board the ship. All I can tell the hon. member is what I said earlier. The captain of the ship, the experts of the naval staff and the British suppliers went through every piece of equipment on the ship on sea trials and on land. They worked with it and examined it minutely. And, no, any decision to put to sea was only made after it was confirmed that this ship was seaworthy and ready to go to sea.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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BQ

Gilles Duceppe

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, Quebec's minister for economic and regional development, Michel Audet, is asking the federal government to help Bombardier, which just announced the elimination of 1,400 jobs in Montreal.

Will the Prime Minister commit now to helping Bombardier by implementing a clear aerospace policy, as the Quebec government has requested, so that the company can develop the new aircraft that it needs and create jobs?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Aerospace Industry
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LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as was announced by the industry and international trade ministers, we intend not only to initiate a complete study, but to develop a strategy for the Canadian aerospace industry. This is a very fundamental industry in which Canada has had huge success, and it is our intention to maintain this level of success.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Aerospace Industry
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BQ

Gilles Duceppe

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, in order to maintain a level of success, we should definitely encourage exports.

Over the past three years, Canada has funded 41% of Bombardier's deliveries of regional aircraft, while during the same period, Brazil funded in excess of 80% of the deliveries of Embraer, which is Bombardier's direct competitor. The difference is obvious.

When will the federal government increase its funding for business exports to the level of our competition, a measure that would greatly help Bombardier, not only with its regional jets, but also with all its current and future products, since we must keep the future in mind?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Aerospace Industry
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LIB

Jim Peterson

Liberal

Hon. Jim Peterson (Minister of International Trade, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, we fully agree with the hon. leader of the Bloc Quebecois that the aerospace industry is very important to Canada. This is why, in the past, we have supported its exports and sales. We will continue to work with this key industry for our country.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Aerospace Industry
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BQ

Paul Crête

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Paul Crête (Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, in June, as we know, the government announced a $500 million program to help the Ontario automotive industry. Of that amount, $200 million was allocated to GM and $100 million to Ford. As recently as September 27, the Minister of Transport was quoted as saying:

The aerospace industry is to Quebec what the automotive industry is to Ontario.

If that is so, what is keeping the federal government from now announcing an aerospace industry support policy similar to its program for the automotive industry?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Aerospace Industry
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LIB

David Emerson

Liberal

Hon. David Emerson (Minister of Industry, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have been meeting with members of the aerospace industry in Canada. I have been meeting with the union leadership. I am having discussions with provincial governments. We are accelerating the development of an aerospace strategy for Canada that would include, of course, dealing with Bombardier issues, but it would be broader and it would extend to the aerospace industry across the country.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Aerospace Industry
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BQ

Paul Crête

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Paul Crête (Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, one of the key elements in aerospace research assistance at this time is the Technology Partnerships Canada program. There is no need to wait any longer, except that, unfortunately, the existing program is underfunded.

What is keeping the government from allocating a substantial increase in funding to this program, thereby enabling Bombardier to develop its new line of aircraft?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Aerospace Industry
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LIB

David Emerson

Liberal

Hon. David Emerson (Minister of Industry, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the technology partnership program is under review. It is part of an overall program review in the Government of Canada. We will ensure that the programs that are necessary to create a competitive aerospace industry are in fact in place.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Aerospace Industry
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October 8, 2004