Dr. Dawg

F-35: gross Conservative incompetence revealed

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From Treasury Board President Tony Clement’s $50 million diversion of national security funds to his own riding, to the on-going election-rigging outrage, to the louche behaviour of Minister Christian Paradis, so unethical that even Harper-appointed Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson found fault, we head now to another DND story: massive finagling of the F-35 jet contract (engines optional), set to cost taxpayers unnecessary billions of dollars (no typo). This latest disgrace makes the provision of free helicopter rides and political dirt-digging assistance to Defence Minister Peter MacKay look like mere peccadilloes.

At this point, a week without a fresh Harper government scandal would be newsworthy in itself for that very reason. It’s time to ask if the Conservatives are fit to govern, not only morally, but nuts-and-bolts literally. They gave away the store on this one, and we’re all going to pay big for it.

Read, and weep:

Alan Williams is a retired assistant deputy minister, responsible for procurement at DND in the early years of the F-35 project, and recently he shared his thoughts on the shortcomings of the tendering process with the Office of the Auditor-General.”The whole process was twisted to suit the needs of the military, with the acknowledgment and support of ministers. It was totally unacceptable,” he said.

“You could run a competition today and have it done within two years,” he said. “You’d have to be blind and deaf not to know how much this project has gone off the rails.”

He said that in his experience, maintenance costs on sophisticated military equipment run at two to three times acquisition costs. He believes the eventual cost to taxpayers for the F-35s is likely to be $25- to $30-billion — double the current government estimate.

According to the National Post’s Conservative-friendly John Ivison, who seems to be getting it at last:

The 33-year public servant has no skin in this game, no clients, no political allegiances. “The only reason I’m doing this is to set the record straight and tell Canadians they’ve been misled,” he said. “The [F-35 purchase] process was completely hijacked and bastardized.”

The contract was rigged to permit sole-sourcing. And it’s not the first time DND has pulled a stunt like that:

Mr. Williams said that former Chief of the Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier, once indicated to him that he wanted Chinook heavy lift helicopters. “I said to him, ‘don’t tell me that you want Chinooks, tell me your requirements’. Almost the day I left, they ordered Chinooks,” he said. These are the same Chinooks that are at least three years behind schedule and 100% over budget — the aircraft where former auditor-general Sheila Fraser said the deliberate understatement of risk by DND was “totally unacceptable.”

We have yet to hear official word from the Auditor-General’s office about this latest boondoggle. But I can guarantee it won’t be pretty. Meanwhile, the word is that the Harper administration will be pressing ahead with its planned slashing of old age pensions—pleading poverty and restraint.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on March 26, 2012 6:12 PM.

Combat zone was the previous entry in this blog.

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