MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.

Stop the presses! I interrupt this article on the modernization of Canada?s Navy to share important breaking news.

For only the second time in history, an individual elected by Canadians to represent them in Parliament?s upper chamber was officially appointed to the Senate this week by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

For those of us who have long fought for democratic accountability in the Red Chamber, this is truly cause for celebration. More than 300,000 Albertans voted for Bert Brown in the province?s 2004 Senate election. Albertans have spoken and our Conservative Government has listened.

Senator Brown will take his seat in the red chamber when Parliament resumes this fall. It will be a proud and rewarding moment. And if Conservative Government legislation, Bill C-43, is passed, ALL Canadians will have a direct say in who will represent them in the Senate.

In other federal news this past week, Prime Minister Harper also announced measures to modernize and upgrade the operational capability of Canada?s Navy and to assert our nation?s sovereignty in the North.

First, our government will proceed with a $3.1-billion refit of the Navy?s Halifax-Class frigates. The frigates, which operate in Canadian coastal and international waters, face missions and potential threats that differ considerably from when they were first put into service in 1998. The new updated equipment will make these ships stronger, safer and improve the Navy?s ability to protect Canadian waters.

In addition, eight new Polar Class 5 Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships will be constructed in Canada. They will be amongst the heaviest, most versatile armed naval vessels capable of sustained operations in ice. They will offer the flexibility for the Navy to operate in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans.

All purchases, repairs and refits for both of these naval projects will be carried-out in Canada, creating new jobs for the shipbuilding and related industries across the country. The cost of acquiring the Polar Class 5 ships is $3.1-billion with approximately $4.3-billion for operations and maintenance over their 25-year lifespan.

The refit of the frigates will take several years to complete and the first Arctic patrol ship will be delivered in 2013. Yes, it?s a long wait but we know we have to get started NOW. For 13 years the previous Liberal government held off on even launching lengthy military procurement processes and we are left with the consequences of their negligence today. The men and women of the Canadian Forces deserve the tools they need to defend our nation?s sovereignty and security.

And finally, to support the re-supply and re-fuelling of the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships and to support our efforts to assert sovereignty over our territory in the north, a new deep water port will be constructed in the Arctic.

The new Polar Class patrol ships and the new Arctic deep water port are part of our Conservative Government?s firm commitment to back-up with real action the message we have steadfastly conveyed to the international community: We WILL protect Canada?s territorial integrity, our borders, our airspace and our waters!