Auditor General Michael Ferguson tabled a scathing report in Parliament this week.
The report states the Conservatives did not conduct an open and fair selection process for replacing the aging F-18 fighters, that the government did not know how much the F-35 would cost when it was selected as the replacement, and that the government and the Department of National Defence have deliberately misled parliament and the Canadian people about the cost of the project.
In short, the auditor general has found that the $25 billion F-35 program is a massive boondoggle that is 25 times costlier than the Long Gun Registry.
You can read the report for yourself online at (http://tinyurl.com/AGS2012, but the Harper government would rather you didn’t. The report is merciless and finds that the Harper government has completely dropped the $25 billion ball on the F-35 project. Here are some direct quotes from the Auditor General in his report;
Paragraph 2.71: “We have a number of observations regarding the life-cycle costing for the F-35. First, costs have not been fully presented in relation to the life of the aircraft.”
Paragraph 2.76: “We also have significant concerns about the completeness of cost information provided to parliamentarians…we observed that National Defence told parliamentarians that cost data provided by US authorities had been validated by US experts and partner countries, which was not accurate at the time. At the time of its response, National Defence knew the costs were likely to increase but did not so inform parliamentarians.”
Paragraph 2.80: “National Defence did not exercise due diligence in managing the process to replace the CF-18 jets.”
Paragraph 2.81: “PWGSC [Public Works and Government Services Canada] did not demonstrate due diligence in its role as the government’s procurement authority.”
In responding to the Auditor General’s report, the Harper Government moved immediately to blame the military for misleading the Minister, but this is nothing more than a diversionary tactic.
New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair, made a strong point in Question Period Tuesday when he asked; “The key question to the Prime Minister is: How could he allow Parliament to be intentionally misled on the F-35’s? Either he knew, and it is unconscionable, or he did not know and it is incompetence. Which is it?”
Not surprisingly, Harper wouldn’t say whether he was a liar or just incompetent, but it is obvious to all that he is one or the other.
The Conservative myths that they are good managers of the economy and the public purse have now been proven spectacularly false.
On the economic front, Canada has created just 600 net new jobs since August, while the United States has created more than 759,000 new positions.
On the growth front, Canada registered a small 0.4 per cent gain in the fourth quarter of 2011 and just 0.1 per cent in January 2012 while the United States was humming along at 3 per cent growth.
Regarding the public purse Stephen Harper continues to add to our national debt with a $25 billion deficit this year, the fourth monster deficit in a row. And finally, in the same week that Mr. Harper told all Canadians under the age of 54 that they must work two years longer and lose $22,000 in Old Age Security payments because there is no money in piggy bank his government is caught in a $25 billion boondoggle that is 25 times costlier than the long gun registry.
The big question I have at this point is; ‘Can the Harper majority government get any worse?’
I sure hope not. Three years is a long time, to be sure, but New Democrats will continue to do our job as the Official Opposition and hold them to account while preparing to undo as much of this damage as possible beginning in 2015.
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