As the Official Opposition prepares to hold their own meetings to hear expert witnesses on the proposed purchase of F-35 fighter jets, information is coming out that indicates that the Harper government hasn’t changed anything despite major issues with the program.
The NDP is hearing witnesses in an attempt to gain information that was denied them while Parliament was sitting.
Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for F-35 program integration says that nothing has changed on their end – they have been told that Canada is still committed and the company is still set to deliver 65 of the jets to the Royal Canadian Air Force. That statement brings up questions about the government’s supposed review of the purchase of replacement jets.
The Harper government’s F-35 purchase was the subject of many questions and debates over the last parliamentary session after it came out that the government wasn’t sharing the true cost of the program. There have also been a lot of questions about problems with the jets themselves and whether they will be deliverable on time to replace the CF-18s that the Canadian Forces currently fly.
When the Auditor General raised questions about the full costing of the F-35 program – and the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s numbers were vastly different that the government’s – Harper and his ministers opted to blame everything and everyone for their flubs, without ever admitting just how much the 65 jets might actually end up costing.
The government put in place the ‘National Fighter Procurement Secretariat‘ after the AG report to give the impression that costs were being independently reviewed.
So far, the official parliamentary committee discussing the purchase has been blocked from hearing from any of the ministers involved in defense procurement. Committee members have also been dodging attempts from Conservative members to end the review of the process.
The NDP is holding their own meetings now to ask questions of witnesses that would be difficult to ask with Conservative pushback when parliament returns in mid September.
Photo Credit: I'll Never Grow Up