F-35 Fighter Jet Planning A Game of Fun with Figures (excerpt)
(Source: Toronto Star; published April 3, 2012)
OTTAWA --- As Auditor General Michael Ferguson laid out details of how the country’s largest military purchase had become a fantasy featuring rejigged requirements, buried costs and bureaucratic smoke-and-mirrors, one question kept recurring.

Where was Peter MacKay?

It was clear that the brass at national defence didn’t bother to keep their minister in the loop, so blinded were they to that shiny object in the showroom.

Related: Auditor General slams Canada’s planned F-35 purchase

But there is nothing in the cabinet minister handbook preventing a few questions being asked, or some assurances sought.

How about poking your head in the door to check from time to time on the biggest expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars you have ever overseen?

Instead, MacKay looked like a tourist on a magic bus of broken rules and financial sleight-of-hand, getting off just in time to announce the government’s decision to buy the F-35s in July 2010 — before anyone had even formally bothered to make up a phony rationale for sole-sourcing the contract.

MacKay wasn’t alone. Where was his predecessor, Gordon O’Connor, the public works minister, Rona Ambrose and, more recently, MacKay’s sidekick at defence, the daily, droning face of the project, Julian Fantino?

Ferguson painted a picture Tuesday of a bureaucracy run amok, bamboozling their political masters at every step.

The most damning game of fun with figures came from a military determined to counter a damaging report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page.

In ignoring a litany of costs, defence came up with a price tag for the planes of $14.7 billion — about half Page’s more accurate appraisal — in a deliberate bid to mislead Parliament.

Page’s numbers were dismissed at the time by then junior defence minister Lawrie Hawn as “speculative and illogical.”

The ministers either misled or were misled.

On balance, Ferguson’s report points to incompetence — ministers who smiled and accepted whatever their departmental staff in the gleaming towers handed them.

Alan Williams, a former assistant deputy minister at defence and F-35 critic, says it is the bureaucracy’s job to keep their ministers in the loop, something it clearly did not do in this case.

“But that doesn’t obviate a minister from being smart enough to ask questions,’’ he said.

The report is rife with examples of a bureaucracy hoodwinking their political masters. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on The Star website.


Video Interview of F-35 Critic Alan Williams
(Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; posted April 3, 2012)
In TV interview, former Canadian assistant deputy minister to DND Alan Williams says bureaucrats and ministers are all responsible for mishandling the F-35 purchase program.

Heads Should Roll for F-35 Fiasco (excerpt)
(Source: Montreal Gazette; published April 3, 2012)
OTTAWA --- Here's what a sober-minded, fiscally responsible and cautious prime minister would do, given the outrageous chronicle of incompetence, stupidity and duplicity revealed by Auditor General Michael Ferguson's report on the F-35 fighter program: He would demand and receive the resignation of Chief of the Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk. He would demand and receive the resignation of Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

Such a prime minister would remove and replace these two men now, regardless of their past contributions and regardless of whether they were directly responsible for the outrages outlined in Ferguson's report, because it happened on their watch. Such a prime minister would then lick his wounds and move on, the caucus and senior civil service chastened but secure in the knowledge that really big mistakes have consequences.

That Prime Minister Stephen Harper does not appear inclined to do this — that the government apparently intends to snort and bluff and bluster its way through this latest stink bomb, just as it has done with such resounding success on the robocalls file — is astonishing. Minority Harper, the man who ditched former minister Helena Guergis on a rumour, would not have done so. Minority Harper would have thrown several of his associates under an eighteen-wheeler Tuesday, without so much as a backward glance.

If you take the time to read the audit, my bet is that you draw the same conclusion I did: Heads must roll. How could they not, when there is a clear pattern of National Defence Department officials, unnamed, misleading government ministers, Parliament and by extension the Canadian people?

How could someone not be held accountable, particularly since the government has had ample reason to know, not for months but for years, that something was deeply awry? (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Montreal Gazette website.


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