This morning’s QP has just concluded. The F-35 procurement was, predictably, a particular point of opposition concern. Below, a sampling.
Jack Harris. Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives don’t even know how to cancel a project properly. The deliberations of a cabinet committee on operations has been leaked and after years of defending the F-35s in the most insulting way to anybody who commented, the government will now reportedly restart the whole process, as the NDP has demanded for years. This issue has shown the worst of Conservative mismanagement. Will they stop these backroom leaks and share the truth with Canadians and release and table the KPMG report today?
Jacques Gourde. Mr. Speaker, we are determined to continue with our seven-point plan and our exhaustive and transparent process to replace the CF-18s. The government has received the KPMG report and it is examining it. The government will talk about this publicly before the end of this Parliament.
Jack Harris. Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve to know the truth and yet the Conservatives have been hiding the truth from Canadians for years. The cabinet leaks are everywhere, the KPMG report is supposedly out, there’s a program here that no one will defend and now costs are estimated to be north of $40 billion. A litany of Conservative failure and mismanagement. When will they come clean, admit their misguided plan has failed and finally agree to have an open and transparent competition?
Jacques Gourde. Mr. Speaker, we are determined to continue with our seven-point plan and our transparent and exhaustive process to replace Canada’s CF-18s. Our seven-point will allow us to look at the options and it’s not limited by this statement of requirements.
John McKay. Mr. Speaker, the minister of defence stated, quote, it is the right plane, it is the right number, it is the right aircraft for our Canadian Forces and for Canada and if we don’t make this purchase there’s a real danger that we’ll be unable to defend our airspace, unable to exercise our sovereignty and unable to share our responsibility with both NORAD and NATO, unquote. More arrogance from the minister. Wrong on the plane. Wrong on the numbers. Wrong altogether. Enough is enough, Mr. Speaker. When will this minister resign?
Peter Van Loan. Well, Mr. Speaker, as I said, our government has a plan, a seven-point plan for the replacement of the CF-18 aircraft. We are continuing with that seven-point plan and as part of that seven-point plan this government will be providing a comprehensive public update before the House retires for Christmas.
John McKay. Mr. Speaker, we appear to have a minister of defence who cannot defend himself. He further stated, quote, let me repeat it, $9 billion. I have no idea where these other figures are coming from. They’re simply made up or they’re guessing. If this procurement is cancelled so another competition will be held, it will cost taxpayers $1 billion and will create an operational gap for the air force in the future, end quote. So Mr. Speaker, everyone else is wrong, I’m right, they’re making it up. Will the minister apologize to Canadians and resign?
Peter Van Loan. Mr. Speaker, we have set out and are following a clear seven-point plan for the replacement of the aircraft. One element of that plan is to ensure job creation and growth in the aviation sector. Job creation is the number one priority of our government. And the proof of that is seen in this month’s job creation numbers. Over 59,000 net new jobs. Over 880,000 jobs now since the economic downturn. We now have the lowest unemployment since the economic downturn. That’s leadership. That’s a focus on job creation. We’ll continue that focus.
Denis Coderre. Mr. Speaker, what’s sad is that we no longer have a minister of defence here, we just have the seller of the month for Lockheed Martin. What’s terrible is that not only did this government show that it was incompetent with finances, but it has shown that it lacks integrity in managing public funds. There’s just one thing to do, if the minister is still honourable, he should stand up and he should say, not only that he apologizes, but I’m standing down as minister of defence.
Jacques Gourde. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We are determined to move forward with our seven-point plan and our comprehensive plan, which is transparent, to replace the aging CF-18s for Canada.
Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe. Mr. Speaker, in 2011, the Prime Minister said, and I quote, I find it disappointing, I find it sad that some people in Parliament are backtracking on the F-35s and that some are talking openly about cancelling the contract should they get the chance. The question is quite simple, do the Prime Minister and his cabinet still believe that?
Jacques Gourde. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we are determined to move forward with our seven-point plan, our comprehensive and transparent plan to replace the aging CF-18s. The government will publicly talk about this before Parliament retires for the Christmas break.
Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe. Predictable response, Mr. Speaker. Second chance. In 2010, it was the minister of defence who said, and I quote once again, If we don’t proceed with this purchase, we will be in real danger because we will no longer be able to defend our airspace, we will be unable to guarantee our sovereignty and we will no longer be able to honour responsibilities with NORAD or NATO. Is the minister of defence still in agreement with his own statement he made in 2011?
Jacques Gourde. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we are determined to move forward with our seven-point plan and our comprehensive and transparent process to replace the aging CF-18s. Our seven-point plan will ensure an examination of the options, which is not limited by the statement of requirements.
Mathieu Ravignat. A real surprise answer, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in 2010, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson said, and I quote, It’s the best plane that the government could provide our forces. And when you’re a pilot staring down Russian long-range bombers, that is an important fact to remember. If the F-35 program is cancelled, will we have to live in fear of Russian bombers?
Jacques Gourde. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we are determined to move forward with our seven-point plan, our exhaustive and transparent process, to replace the aging fleet of CF-18s.