Interventions in the House of Commons
 
 
 
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, our men and women in uniform have front row seats for the sad spectacle of the Liberals and the Prime Minister.
For the past year, the opposition, experts, and the military have been telling the government to stop misleading Canadians with the unnecessary purchase of 18 Super Hornets. The minister has lost all credibility. Canadians also realize that the Prime Minister is improvising at the expense of national security.
Can the government stop improvising and finally hold an open and transparent process to replace the fighter jets in order to give the military the equipment they are entitled to right now?
View Harjit S. Sajjan Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I was very proud, on behalf of the government's new defence policy, to be able to announce that we will be purchasing not 65 fighter aircraft but 88, making sure that we have a full, transparent competition to replace the entire fleet.
We are investing in our legacy fleet as well. We do have a capability gap and we need to fill it to make sure that the air force has all the planes necessary to meet all their commitments simultaneously.
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
View James Bezan Profile
2017-06-20 22:54 [p.13079]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise tonight to revisit a question I raised on May 4. I asked the Minister of National Defence why the Liberals were taking away the danger pay from our troops that were currently deployed in the fight against ISIS and were stationed in Kuwait at Camp Arifjan. We had already established that the Minister of National Defence had a very casual relationship with the troops.
We heard from veterans not only on the minister's embellishment of his service record, but also the feeling of service members and their families on the impact it had on their moral state of mind, as they served in the Canadian Armed Forces, knowing the government was trying to undermine their danger pay.
A 27-year veteran stated, “The Defence Minister cannot continue to lead the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, having lost the and respect and trust in this way.”
I acknowledge that the danger pay issue was resolved. After opposition members and Canadians put so much pressure on the government, it had to backtrack. The government was forced to accept a motion I brought forward in the House to restore the danger pay for all troops that were in the fight against ISIS, including those that were stationed in Kuwait, particularly at Camp Arifjan. We know the embarrassment was so much that the Liberals had to insert it into the defence policy review.
Today I want to deal with the track record of the Minister of National Defence over the past year. We have heard from members of the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as veterans, who took great offence with the minister's comments that he was the architect of Operation Medusa. This was not a slip of the tongue. This was something he said from prepared notes in a speech he delivered in India on April 18. He said that on his first appointment to Kandahar in 2006, he was the architect of Operation Medusa. He said it in 2015 as a Liberal candidate.
To show how it impacted upon our veterans and our troops, retired Lieutenant-Colonel Shane Schreiber said that the minister, as a soldier, probably would not have said that, however, the minister the politician thought he could get away with it. He said, “When you are careless with your words as a politician, that can haunt you.” He went on to say, “Any good soldier would not try to steal another soldier's honour.” This is often referred to as stolen valour.
The minister has apologized for that statement, but he has undermined his own credibility because of this statement, which was deliberately misleading not only the House but Canadians and the people he spoke to in India.
We also know he has misled the House on a number of other occasions.
He also said that the pulling our CF-18s from Operation Impact in the war against ISIS was accepted by our allies. He said in December, 2015 that he had not had one discussion about the CF-18s. However, emails sent by officials, which we acquired through an access to information request, showed that the Iraqi minister of defence was clearly focused on Canada's decision to withdraw its CF-18s from the coalition air strikes, asking the minister to reconsider this decision on numerous occasions.
We also know that on numerous occasions, Kurdish officials stated that they wanted to have our CF-18s left in the fight against ISIS, but the Liberal Minister of National Defence brought them home.
We also know that over the past year, the minister has also dealt with this whole issue of—
View Jean Rioux Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Jean Rioux Profile
2017-06-20 22:58 [p.13080]
Mr. Speaker, my colleague's original question had to do with pay for our troops who are deployed to Kuwait to fight against Daesh as part of Operation Impact. The member opposite also mentioned the Minister of National Defence in his speech.
I am pleased that he has given me an opportunity to reiterate that the minister is a former reservist who has an excellent understanding of the needs of soldiers and their families and who believes that our troops are by far our greatest asset. He is a minister who puts his experience on the ground, his expertise, and his energy into serving our men and women in uniform every day. He is a minister who ensures that our soldiers have the resources, training, equipment, and support they need to successfully carry out the missions and operations assigned to them.
Like the minister, our entire government is determined to ensure that the members of the Canadian Armed Forces get all the benefits they need to take care of their families here in Canada, particularly when they are sent on missions abroad.
That is why we supported the motion moved by the member opposite last March regarding tax relief for military personnel sent to Kuwait. That motion was debated on March 9, 2017, and was adopted unanimously in the House.
The Minister of National Defence became personally engaged in this file in February 2016. On May 18, the Minister of National Defence announced that we would be offering tax relief to all Canadian Armed Forces members who take part in international chief of the defence staff named operations, up to the highest rank of lieutenant-colonel. This change is retroactive to January 2017. In addition, this measure does not affect the hardship allowance, risk allowance, or deployment allowance set out in the National Defence military foreign service instructions. Those payments will continue.
Our women and men in uniform who take part in overseas operations are doing a tremendous job. They are highly skilled and very well trained, and are the pride of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. They represent Canada with professionalism and courage, and we are very grateful to them.
Our new policy includes several measures to ensure that our troops get the support they need whether they are transitioning from civilian to military life or back to civilian life at the end of their career.
We put our troops and their families at the heart of this policy by making sure they get the care, support, training, and resources they need to accomplish what we ask of them. The government's new defence policy includes a new vision and a new approach to defence. We provided a clear direction on defence priorities over a 20-year horizon and provided matching long-term investments to fully fund the implementation of our new policy.
The government set out an ambitious but realistic plan to ensure that Canada can respond to current and future defence challenges. Over the next 10 years, annual military spending will rise from $18.9 billion to $32.7 billion. The size of the regular force will grow by 3,500, and the reserve force will be increased by 1,500. We will also invest to grow, maintain, and upgrade Canadian Armed Forces capabilities.
The Minister of National Defence is deeply committed to our troops, and the new defence policy reflects that commitment.
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
View James Bezan Profile
2017-06-20 23:02 [p.13081]
Mr. Speaker, we are not questioning the minister's record. We are questioning his trustworthiness. Case in point, the sole-sourcing for 18 Super Hornets where the capability gap is imaginary. We already know that 88% of defence experts and 13 former Royal Canadian Air Force commanders have said there is no capability gap.
We have already seen $12 billion worth of cuts in two budgets under this minister. The government has done a defence policy review, but there is no money to actually resource it. If there is no money to resource it, then it is a book of empty promises.
The minister has been out there doing his tour. Canadians and members of the Canadian Armed Forces are hoping it is his farewell tour, because this is a minister who has gone out, and tried to sell something when we know the money is not in the budget. The Minister of Finance has said that currently the Canadian Armed Forces are properly provisioned. I can tell the House the money is not there to do the things the government says it is going to do.
View Jean Rioux Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Jean Rioux Profile
2017-06-20 23:03 [p.13081]
Mr. Speaker, in a context of complex and unpredictable international security, Canada has to anticipate new threats and new challenges, adapt to the changing context, and act with decisive military capability.
I want to point out that the minister chaired the most important consultation in years in order to develop Canada's new defence policy. His unwavering passion contributed to the plan for Canada's protection, North America's security, and the commitment related to maintaining stability in a constantly changing world for the next 20 years.
As the Chief of the Defence Staff said when the new defence policy was unveiled, this is a good day for people in uniform. Canadian Armed Forces members are happy with the Minister of National Defence and they respect him. That is abundantly clear on the ground. I have seen it many times.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Robert Oliphant Profile
2017-06-19 14:47 [p.12924]
Mr. Speaker, for decades the Canadian government actively discriminated against gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer Canadians. Thousands of public servants and military personnel were fired for their sexual orientation, forced to live double lives or risk loss of employment or even criminal conviction.
I am proud of our government's efforts to build stronger ties with my community, working for rights at home and abroad. However, still more remains to be done. Could the Minister of Justice update us on steps the government is taking to heal the wounds in the LGBTQ2 community?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I am incredibly proud of the work our government is doing.
In Canada we embrace diversity and inclusion. We have to ensure that everybody has the freedom to be who they are. That is why I am incredibly proud that the Senate passed Bill C-16 last week. I look forward to it receiving royal assent and adding to the Canadian Human Rights Code a prohibition against gender identity and gender expression.
We are doing more. We are looking at historic records and the expungement of them for unjust laws. In this month of pride, I want to celebrate and applaud the—
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
View James Bezan Profile
2017-06-19 14:48 [p.12925]
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' mismanagement of the fighter jet replacement has gone from a national scandal to an international embarrassment.
Over the weekend, officials were instructed to meet with aerospace companies in Paris, then they were told to cancel those meetings, and then they were told to reschedule them. The Minister of National Defence has made a complete mess of this file.
Is there anyone on the Liberal benches, anyone at all, who can fix this comedy of errors and actually hold an open competition to replace our aging fighter jets now?
View Jean Rioux Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Jean Rioux Profile
2017-06-19 14:49 [p.12925]
Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is committed to conducting an open and transparent competition for the permanent replacement of the fleet of fighter jets. This competitive process will help ensure that the members of the Canadian Armed Forces have the best aircraft for the long term, while getting the best value for money and generating the most economic benefits for Canadians. We have begun to develop the bid solicitation process. The initial consultations with the industry will begin in 2017.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal plan to replace Canada's fighter jets has become a real farce, and the farce has even spread to the international stage. That side of the House cannot even organize a simple meeting with representatives from the aerospace industry. On top of that, most stakeholders have lost all confidence in the Minister of National Defence, so this file has become a massive boondoggle.
Does the Prime Minister understand the magnitude of the problem? Will he bring his minister into line and immediately launch an open and transparent process?
View Jean Rioux Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Jean Rioux Profile
2017-06-19 14:50 [p.12925]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind my colleague that in the policy statement, the chief of the defence staff said that it was a great day for our men and women in uniform.
Yes, we will ensure that our military personnel have the right equipment to carry out their mission. First and foremost, we have commitments to our NORAD and NATO allies. That is why we want to replace our aging equipment, so that our men and women in uniform can properly carry out their missions at home and abroad.
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
View James Bezan Profile
2017-06-19 14:51 [p.12925]
Mr. Speaker, nobody trusts the Liberals to deliver on that promise.
The Liberals unveiled their defence and foreign policies, and surprise, surprise, there were no details of a UN peacekeeping mission in either of them. It has been almost a year since the Prime Minister naively promised 600 troops to a vague UN peacekeeping mission. Documents show that the Liberals have turned down five UN leadership roles and will not commit to a single UN mission.
The Prime Minister has said that Canada is back. Now he is backing away from UN peacekeeping missions after stepping back from the fight against ISIS. When will the Prime Minister finally step up and quit embarrassing Canada on the world stage?
View Matt DeCourcey Profile
Lib. (NB)
View Matt DeCourcey Profile
2017-06-19 14:52 [p.12925]
Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, Canada did announce that it was back in the world and will play a significant role in international and multilateral institutions, including as a determined peace-builder returning to peace support operations. That was a commitment of our government, and we will restore Canada's role in peace support missions. We are taking our time, thoughtfully, to decide what mission Canada will lead in. We are doing that because that is what Canadians expect of us.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, nearly one year after the Prime Minister made the ill-advised promise to send 600 Canadian soldiers on some sort of peacekeeping mission, we are still in the dark.
The Liberals could have given us the details of this mission in their defence or foreign affairs policies, but once again, it is radio silence. We have now learned that Canada has refused five interesting offers from the UN.
Could the Prime Minister finally tell our soldiers what is going on, rather than using them as pawns to try to win a seat on the UN Security Council?
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