Friday, December 9, 2011

How can Canadians expect to have confidence in the Minister of Defence?

I posed the following questions Friday, Dec. 9th in the House of Commons.

Mr. Speaker,

Yesterday in this House, the Associate Minister of National Defence described a flight on a search and rescue helicopter from the fishing camp as, “a very routine kind of endeavour, indeed.”

Routine is taking a taxi to an airport.

Routine is taking a taxi to work.

I would like to ask the associate minister exactly what he means by “routine?”

How frequently does the minister use a search and rescue helicopter to get back from vacation?

Response from Chris Alexander (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence):

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence was on leave, at his own expense.

He was called back to work on very short notice.

Government aircraft were used in this case for government business.

Every rule, much more exigent, demanding rules, for the use of government aircraft was followed.

This is a government that has reduced the use of government aircraft by 80 per cent compared with the previous government.

My follow-up question:

Mr. Speaker,

If indeed this is the only time the minister was hoisted in a basket by a helicopter and taxied to his next destination, how in the world can this be considered routine?

A minister takes a joyride in a search and rescue helicopter, then he makes up a story, then he changes the story, then he threatens to sue the people who question him.

My question today is simple: How can the minister explain the use of a search and rescue helicopter for a personal trip?

As well, after all this, how can Canadians expect to have confidence in the Minister of Defence?

Chris Alexander:

Mr. Speaker, we do not expect, on this side, the member opposite to show respect for the dedication of this minister, to taking part in training missions, to visiting our troops when they are on missions abroad, when they are carrying out the business of Canada.

This minister has shown dedication of an exceptional quality.

In this particular case, he was on holiday.

He was there at his personal expense. He was called back to work on short notice. He followed the rules, and those rules are much tougher than they have ever been in this country.

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