As Mr. Harper repeats his claim that his government stands for prudent financial management, there appears a story in today's Ottawa Citizen, reporting that the F35's the government plans to purchase are of the stripped down variety:
The multi-million dollar F-35 stealth fighter that the Conservatives want to purchase comes with all the accoutrement's of a high-tech aircraft — everything, that is, except an engine..
The government will be required to provide engines for the 65 planes to be delivered by U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin, according to newly released Defence Department documents.
In another time and place this story would provide the seed for an episode of Get Smart. It's not hard to visualize. Max and the Chief, entombed in the Cone of Silence, are reviewing the numbers for the purchase. When the Chief questions those figures, a flustered Max replies, "Missed it by that much!"
The point is that "smart" is not the adjective which comes to mind to describe this crew. When they present figures, the public response should be what President Obama reportedly told the Republicans on the other side of the bargaining table: "Do you really think we're stupid?"
Speaking of Harper's plan to find $11 billion dollars in savings, Paul Martin -- who has some experience constructing federal budgets -- told an audience in Edmonton yesterday:
Now I look at those numbers and I have the same reaction that the C.D. Howe has, that the Fraser Institute has, which is to say they can’t find that money without major cuts, and I can tell you one area that clearly is in danger [of] suffering, that is in fact the health care budget.
He then reminded his audience of what the Prime Minister has said in the past:
Stephen Harper has said unequivocally that he does not think that the Canada Health Act or that health care is a federal responsibility, so he’s going to stick with where the federal responsibilities in his mind are.
Mr. Harper has spent a lot of his time during this campaign running away from his past, and essentially repeating the lines of an old Bob Dylan song: "I Was So Much Older Then, I'm Younger Than That Now." Perhaps -- when the Prime Minister finally leaves government -- he will have a future as a pianist -- or better still, as a comic. Like Buster Keaton, he need never crack a smile.
If someone gets the bright idea of bringing back Get Smart, perhaps he'll answer the casting call.