Harper Facing Dogfight Over Fighter Jet Deal
(Source: National Post (Canada); published Oct. 7, 2010
Confronted by an insider warning against the sole-sourced purchase of a fighter jet dubbed the Flying Credit Card, a furious Stephen Harper on Thursday chose to attack the whistle-blower — and warn against massive aerospace job losses if opponents continue “playing politics” with the lives of Canadian troops.

Such hyperbole suggests the F-35 jet fighter controversy is getting under the Prime Minister’s skin. He may have cause to fret.

Retired assistant deputy minister of materials Alan Williams — an expert who is hard to dismiss — took the parliamentary stand on Wednesday afternoon to denounce the lack of competition for $9-billion worth of fighter jets as likely to squander billions of tax dollars and lost business opportunities. Mr. Williams warned Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s logic on the F-35 file is “flawed,” and he’s taking public positions that “insults our intelligence.”

This is no opposition cheap shot.

This comes from a 33-year public servant who signed the memorandum of understanding in 2002 committing Canada to $100-million in funding to develop the F-35 stealth fighter. He’s even written a book on the subject: Reinventing Canadian Defence Procurement: A View From The Inside.

The government moved quickly to undermine the witness’s credibility.

“In terms of the individual you are talking about, his advice was very different at the time that he was actually paid to give it,” sniffed Mr. Harper during a brief media chat in Winnipeg.

Well, not really. While the PMO helpfully distributed Mr. Williams’ testimony from 2003 that predicted major Canadian benefits from the ongoing F-35 partnership, he never said the original contract was anything more than a lucrative business opportunity. Nowhere does he state Canada was committed to buying the jet. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full article, on the National Post website.


$9B F-35 Jets 'the Best Deal': Harper (excerpt)
(Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corp.; published Oct. 7, 2010)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has reaffirmed his government's decision to spend $9 billion on a new generation of fighter jets, saying Thursday the purchase is "the best deal for Canada."

Harper spoke in Winnipeg to employees at Bristol Aerospace Ltd., which manufactures parts for Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II, the jet the government has committed to buying.

"We are buying it in a way that gets the best deal for Canada," Harper said, as workers in white coats, hard hats and safety goggles listened behind him. "[The Liberals'] position here is playing politics with the lives of our men and women in uniform and the jobs of the people in this room, and we will not stand for it."

The Liberal Opposition has questioned the purchase, one of the biggest military procurements in Canadian history — but awarded to Lockheed Martin without a single competing bid. Though the jets themselves are to cost $9 billion, with maintenance, the total price could reach $18 billion.

Harper used his speech to lash out at the Liberals. "This is not a political game; it is about lives," he declared, adding that the jobs associated with the deal "are important for [Winnipeg] and for this country." (end of excerpt)

Click here
for the full article, on the CBC website.


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