Friday, April 6, 2012

F-35s Can Go F...Um Dick Cheney's Favourite Insult.

Possible lack of decorum in the title of this post, but these are desperate times and desperate measures are called for.

A few days ago, the Auditor General released a report highlighting some of the spending on Parliament Hill. While he made note of some programs and methods, particularly the methods used by Revenue Canada to target tax dodgers, he also focused on the government's process in selecting the F-35 as the new replacement to Canada's aging jet fighter fleet.

Needless to say, the AG picked the bone of the issue bare and now a lot of questions are being asked that have serious consequences attached to the answers.

Firstly, the AG slammed the procurement process and stated that many of the strident guidelines used to determine the awarding of government contracts was not even followed slightly. In fact, the AG suggests that the government had made up its mind about purchasing the F-35 months before the announcement came that Canada would look to improve its air fleet.

While the AG didn't single anyone out, he did point some fingers at bureaucrats from Defence Department. The AG was quick to point out that the type of tender that usually goes out to identify contractors was crafted specifically in a way to ensure the F-35 was the only plane that met the guidelines set by the Defence Department.

This is a little odd, given that we also have information that the F-35 failed to meet some of the ten requirements put forward by the Defence Department. Whether this is just to serve as a red herring, or some other distraction, is possible. And I suppose time will tell on that front.

But the AG shot a little further more recently, when he came out with the bombshell announcement that members of the executive, or those in cabinet, would and should have had access to costing documents from the DoD that would have revealed that the planes would cost more than the $14 billion figure the Conservatives were trumpeting as the cost of the plane.

But again, this is something that sounds a little odd. After all, Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page had been ringing warning bells about the inflating costs of the F-35s since the program was announced. Of course, the government was quick to condemn Page and his figures, which pegged costs as closer to $30 billion...

Page was condemned and attacked by the government; who according to AG Ferguson should have known that the numbers Page was presenting was closer to the truth then their own numbers at the time.

Keep in mind, this was a government that was found in contempt over their inability to release budgetary information to Parliamentarians; and now their go to defence is that they were not provided those numbers, which the AG has said is clearly false.

So, the new defence is that the numbers provided did not take into account such details as pilot's salaries and gas prices...But, I could have sworn, Harper and team had quoted those things in their details when they rejected Page's numbers. Someone could definitely look into that and find out whether or not this new defence won't even last a day.

Given Harper's top down style, we know that the odds of him or someone in the PMO or the Cabinet not knowing about this is highly unlikely.

And the DoD has gone through two ministers since the Harper Government came to power and decided on the F-35s...This implies that both men, Gordon O'Connor and Peter Mackay, are either completely incompetent or implicit in their involvement of concealing the cost of the F-35s.

Harper is also defending his government's record by reminding people that no money has been spent yet...But the fact remains that this deal, a key part of the government's agenda, was rigged from the start and conducted in an underhanded manner that would destroy the credibility of any government.

Add this to the Robocalls, the continuing lapsed ethics of Christian Paradis and his staffers, and the numerous other objections Canadians have against this government; and we start to see a culture of corruption at the very heart of this government. With this many scandals and 'boondoggles' under this government's watch, we cannot simply assume all of these things are coincidence.

This is not the Harper Government's series of unfortunate events. Rather, this is a series of calculated events that we are only beginning to see the depth of. This is the tip of the iceberg, and when we see the mass underneath the water, who knows how the average Canadian will react.

No comments: