With the Public Accountants Committee getting ready to take up the F35 fraud, a fight is brewing over which witnesses will be allowed to testify before the committee. The Hill Times reports that Andrew Saxton, the ranking Conservative on the committee, has revealed the government's game plan: "The government is ready to call deputy ministers of the departments involved, but lower-level officials, likely including project managers, would be selected by deputy ministers."
However, they will not accept witnesses nominated by the NDP or the Liberals. One of those witnesses is Phillippe Legasse, of the University of Ottawa. Legasse has said the whole F35 procurement mess could not have happened without cabinet approval:
To be able to get through, to get Industry [Canada] to quiet down about the IRBs [Industrial and Regional Benefits], to get Public Works to just accept that letter, to get TBS [Treasury Board Secretariat] to accept this and to make it through Cabinet, there is no question that the government was complicit in this, and this is something they accepted,” he said.
The Conservatives are doing everything in their power to prevent that kind of opinion from finding its way to the parliamentary record. Liberal MP Gerry Byrne has rightly noted that the prime minister's men
"are looking to try to control the witness list. This is about trying to control the message, this is a political dynamic. There’s a political piece at play here, which members of the executive knew what when. All the president’s men sat at that table just a few minutes ago and all the president’s men made sure that the Prime Minister was protected.”
Recent reports suggest that key information has been erased from the Conservative Party's database, making it more difficult to trace those robocalls. Have you heard this story before?