Peter MacKay continues to deny that he or his department did anything wrong, even as he agrees with the Auditor-General that more oversight is needed. This week he is chalking up the missing $10 billion (in his F-35 fighter jet cost estimate) to a disparity in accounting practices. MacKay wants Canadians visualizing slightly different, but equally legitimate accounting formulas.
Only this scandal is not about accounting, it’s about accountability.
Critics suggest MacKay is either ignorant of procedural policy or chose to ignore it. But it’s becoming clear neither of these are true.
…the government kept two sets of books on the project, one for private purposes showing the cost as $25 billion, the other for public purposes putting it at $15 billion…
…it is possible that a minister could be so ill-briefed that he would never have heard of “life cycle costing,” though the concept has been around for decades; that he would not know it was the standard, not only at Treasury Board, but across NATO. And I suppose it is possible for a government to be so confused that it would both apply and not apply the concept at the same time, particularly if it was unclear that this was something that was required of it, rather than simply good practice.
…it is not possible to believe this, once you understand that in fact there is no difference of opinion: that the policy of accounting for all the lifetime costs of an asset, without exception, is not some crazy invention of the auditor general’s, or some musty Treasury Board guideline. It is the publicly stated policy of the Department of National Defence — the department of which, if memory serves, MacKay is the minister. The policy the minister sees fit to ridicule is, according to conventional constitutional doctrine, his policy. (Andrew Coyne, Ottawa Citizen, April 11).
Must read/must listen to media items.
Coyne: The F-35 scandal — when governments lie, how do we respond? (as cited above)
The Current on the F-35 Fighter Jets: Buried in the story of the cost of F-35 fighter jets is…the intricate web of development and business that has already been spun into the procurement of these planes….Today, we’re asking if the fighter jet procurement is simply too big to fail.
The interviews give the impression the F35 is to MacKay et al what a video game is to a teenager. Something shiny, bright, and new. ‘Awesome’ entertainment. Nothing of substance is offered, not even a half-baked rationale. At a time when government departments and regulatory processes are being gutted because of an alleged lack of revenue, you’d think they’d try harder to sell this turkey.
MacKay is asking us to trust him on the F35 despite the Pentagon’s serious misgivings and MacKay’s failure to be accountable and transparent on the true cost – a cost he was fully aware of. The timing couldn’t be worse, too, considering Harper is asking ordinary citizens to swallow an austerity budget that guts essential services, programs, and thousands of jobs. Harper is making massive cuts across the board to government, including the military, Veterans Affairs, and the border service. Harper is even cutting Canada’s air defense system, largely eliminating the air defence capability in the Canadian Forces. Go figure.
Peter MacKay and Stephen Harper know $10 billion isn’t chump change, which is why they misrepresented the true cost to the public and Parliament. They knew most of us wouldn’t go along with an expenditure they can’t justify when they are cutting everything from food safety, to environmental oversight, to pensions.