Hon. Paul Dick (Minister of Supply and Services):
Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for putting that question.
I believe there were six or seven witnesses yesterday before the committee. Only one witness said that the Boeing Labrador helicopter would be anywhere near comparable to the EE1-101. As a matter of fact, outside in a scrum afterward he was asked by reporters: "Are you trying to tell us that the Labrador is as good as the EH-101?" He ignored the question. The fifth time it was asked, he said: "No, it is not".
We cannot compare a 40-year old aircraft which does not even have the airframe built anywhere in the world any more because it is so old to a brand new aircraft. We cannot say that it is equal. It just is not equal.
The fact is it would cost us $600 million to refurbish those in a way that we need to refurbish them in this country as was expressed yesterday. He is talking in American dollars of a refurbishment that they did a few years ago for the Americans who are using those helicopters for a second-line helicopter. They do not put on de-icing equipment.
I am sorry, we live in Canada. We cannot take those helicopters off the ground 38 per cent of the time now because we do not have de-icing equipment on them and because of the winds. They cannot be fitted with certifiable de-icing equipment. We need a better helicopter to do search and rescue in this country. It will cost about the same amount.
Topic: ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic: HELICOPTER PROGRAM