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Senator Plett Questions Senator Harder on Government Commitments to Manitoba Aerospace Industry (C-10)
June 22, 2016

Manitoba—Aerospace Industry

Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Leader, as you know, we have for the last week been quite actively discussing Bill C-10 at committee and here in this chamber, and we are probably going to be getting to third reading today. Of course you know, leader, that one of my main concerns on this file has been a commitment that a minister in Winnipeg, Minister of Employment MaryAnn Mihychuk, made to Manitoba during the last provincial election, a very specific commitment. Until now, the government has not honoured that commitment.

Leader, on behalf of Manitoba, I thank you for your intervention in this file.

Have we gotten at least closer to the very specific commitment that the Minister of Employment made to Manitoba?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question as well as for his earlier question in the chamber on the same issue and, indeed, for the conversations I have had the benefit of having with him, other senators from Manitoba and other senators on this subject.

I am happy to report today, to confirm as indicated by Minister Garneau on Monday during his committee appearance, that the Government of Canada has committed $10 million over five years to fully fund phase 3 of the aerospace manufacturing program at Red River College.

As a result of further conversations and discussions I have had with honourable senators, I can confirm that the Government of Canada has now committed an additional $5 million towards aerospace training in the province of Manitoba, with the details to be worked out over the coming days with the Government of Manitoba.

In addition, the government is actively pursuing further opportunities to strengthen and develop Manitoba's aerospace sector in collaboration with the Government of Manitoba.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Plett: Thank you very much, leader. I certainly appreciate that response.


Let me, just by way of a supplementary question, ask this: The very elusive Minister Mihychuk — nobody seemed to be able to locate her or had her phone number, and they couldn't get a response from her. A Winnipeg Free Press reporter finally managed to track her down, leader, and in that conversation, she said that she had been involved in some early discussions that were confidential. Somehow that leaked. I'm not sure how. But it did.

She went on further to say that she is a little surprised that we are talking about this in the media. I'm not sure how she would expect that commitments that a minister makes would not be discussed in the media, especially if they are relevant to Manitoba. The commitment that she did make, in fact — and people are now admitting that she made that — was a commitment of $20 million.

I know that my Manitoba colleagues in this chamber would be very interested and hoping very much that this commitment would come to fruition.

My question to you, leader, is: Would you commit to continue to work on this file to make sure that Manitoba gets the entire net benefit from this particular bill that they were very clearly promised during the last provincial election?

Senator Harder: I would like to give the honourable senator the assurance that I will work diligently with the honourable senator and other senators from Manitoba on this issue, going forward, as I will work with other senators on issues affecting their respective provinces, and work with the Government of Canada for an appropriate response. Hopefully, we can work, in the future, in a fashion that brings credit to this institution and works for a better Canada.

With respect to the specific commitment that the honourable senator is asking with regard to Manitoba and this issue, I refer to my last point made in my first question where I reference that the government is actively pursuing further measures and opportunities to strengthen and develop Manitoba's aerospace sector. I, like the honourable senator, look forward to those discussions unfolding in the weeks and days ahead.

Senator Plett: I will be brief. I will just take this moment not to ask a question, but simply to offer my appreciation to you for the work you have done and you will continue to do. It is clearly better than the work that has been done in the other place.

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