Defense Minister Peter MacKay admitted today that the government knew for two years that the F-35 contract would cost $10 billion more than was said to Parliament and the Canadian people.
Auditor General Michael Ferguson released his report slamming the military for hiding this information and echoing the initial whistleblowing of Budgetary Watchdog Kevin Page. The issue caused the last election as the Harper government was placed in contempt of Parliament and consequently won a majority win while illegal activity took place in 200 confirmed ridings.
“I can’t speak to individuals who knew it, but it was information that was prepared within National Defense, and it’s certainly my understanding that that would have been information that, yes, that the government would have had.”
MacKay admitted that he knew the cost of the F-35 project was pegged at $25 billion but dismissed the extra $10 billion as the cost of staff and operation,
"Yes, and it was explained to me just that way, that the additional $10 billion was money that you could describe as sunk costs, that is what we're paying our personnel, and the fuel that is currently being expended in CF-18s, jet fuel, maintenance costs, what we are currently spending. So not part of a new acquisition," MacKay said.
The opposition has called for resignations which MacKay dismissed.
MacKay argued that no money was spent on the project.
"This money has not been spent. No money is missing," he said.
But before MacKay admitted to wrong doing, he claimed that the $10 billion difference was caused by “accounting.”
“There’s a different interpretation in the all-up costs at arriving at $25-billion,” Mr. MacKay told CTV’s Question Period. “And that information goes back to the year 2010. Those figures are there for all to see.”
Pundits have used the sponsorship scandal to compare the situation where the government purposely mislead Canadians over misspent money. However, the difference is that sponsorship dealt with millions of dollars and the F-35 scandal deals with billions.
“I have a very direct question,” Liberal Interim Leader Bob Rae told Harper in the House of Commons. “When was the Prime Minister first aware that the true cost of the proposed aircraft was $25 billion? On what date was he aware of this fact?”
Harper responded, “I understand the honorable member’s in need for attention these days Mr. Speaker.”
Harper then tried to downplay the issue claiming, “there are no consequences to this point because the government has not spent any money on the acquisition of aircraft.”
Considering that Harper has led the most controlled and coordinated government in Canadian history, even renaming it to the Harper government, it would be shocking if he really didn’t know and if this response was nothing more than an attempt to dodge the question and an attempt to dodge accountability.
The opposition is calling for resignations and for a matter that costs $10 billion of taxpayers’ money, they have every right to.