Auditor General Report shows F-35 procurement process flawed and Ministers barely engaged

The brouhaha that flowed from the Auditor General’s report on April 3rd can be called appropriate when one considers the history of this issue.  The out-of-whack estimates for the costing of these fighter jets and the concentrated effort on the part of the, then minority, Conservative government to hide all information about the purchase from a parliamentary committee were among the reasons that the government was, historically, found in contempt of Parliament.

Conservatives have made much of their belief that the historic charge means little to those outside the “Ottawa bubble.”   They wish it were so, but the role of Parliament is the primary check and balance in our political system.   At the top of the chain is the concept of ministerial responsibility – something we see little of anymore.

The Auditor General is an Officer of Parliament whose role was established in 1868 to oversee government spending.  The Auditor General offers third party analysis to offset the political jungle of government and opposition politics that surrounds budgets and other spending matters. 

The report that dropped in April is damning and lays bare so many claims the Conservatives have made about the F-35 procurement process and cost estimates that it would make your head spin.  Surely, lost forever is the claim that the Conservatives are good economic managers.  A good economic manager would kick the tires on a plane that, at the time of signing –on, represented the single biggest federal government purchase in Canadian history - not these guys.  

What is so shameful is how the Conservatives have painted those who questioned the F-35 deal as anything from uninformed to anti-military to unpatriotic.  Turns out two of the most uninformed people in the entire process have been the last two Ministers of Defence who have left a fog of disinformation both in and outside of Parliament as they responded to critics voicing legitimate concerns.  We have learned the costs are running out of control and the Ministers did not perform due diligence.  Bad business sense and bad political judgment from the ‘austerity’ crowd.

The tail has wagged the dog and the Prime Minister is refusing to follow the checks and balances in our parliamentary system such as demanding a resignation or two.  Again, and bluntly, the rules for parliament aren’t nerdy, they are our primary protection against corruption and people assuming they can run Canada like a private kingdom. 

Please recall the Conservatives won power from a scandal ridden string of Liberal governments with a promise to bring ethics and transparency to parliament.  I suggest that the Conservatives have no recollection of this promise or inaccurate definitions of both words.