Thursday, April 12, 2012

Deja Vu All Over Again

Peter Mackay is peddling the line that the Auditor General advocates a new kind of accounting when it comes to the purchase of military hardware. But Andrew Coyne points out that Sheila Fraser criticized the Harper government for the same violation of established accounting procedures when it purchased 43 Cyclone and Chinook helicopters:

“We found that National Defence has been slow to assess the full life-cycle costs,” she reported with regard to the Cyclones, “and some elements of these costs have still not been completely determined.” She listed some of the costs that had not been included, that should have been: “costs related to contracted Sea King support, new infrastructure, Canadian Forces personnel, and ongoing operating costs.” Similar deficiencies were found with respect to the costing of the Chinooks.

The Harperites responded to Fraser's report in exactly the same way they responded to Micheal Ferguson's report: They said they "agreed" with the Auditor General's findings; then chose to do as they wished. Coyne writes:

So there is no disagreement here: no dispute, no confusion, no mistake. In the fall of 2010, Peter MacKay was Minister of Defence. It is inconceivable that he could be unaware of his own department’s position on this major issue: that all costs should be included, including operating costs, including personnel, as the Auditor-General had recommended. Note that her report did not exclude any costs on the grounds that this was “money we’re already spending” on the asset to be replaced, an exception MacKay has tried to carve out.

And once that claim is knocked down — that this was all just a dispute over accounting — there is no escape. The government knowingly misrepresented the true costs of the F-35 in its public statements. It knew how it was supposed to account for these, under Treasury Board rules, under the Auditor-General’s recommendation, and by its own publicly stated agreement with both. And it knew how it was doing so in its own internal documents, going back to 2010. It simply chose to tell a different story to Parliament and the public.

The conclusion is inescapable. The government defrauded Parliament when it was in session. It defrauded the public during the last election. If we were living in a true parliamentary democracy -- with a responsible government -- the Harper dynasty would fall.


thwap said...

They'll be gone before the year is out.

Owen Gray said...

The evidence keeps piling up, thwap. And these guys keep digging a deeper hole. I hope you're right.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

The Harper Conservatives treat the Opposition (and the public) with contempt. They see them at least obstructionist and at worst disloyal. What about the parliamentary concept of the Loyal Opposition?

This way of thinking goes hand in had with the Conservative ideological thinking that cannot handle complex problems and sees simple solutions that support their positions which ignore facts and reasoned opposition.

Is this a characteristic of Conservative thinking and it's public appeal? This article seems to suggest it is.

Owen Gray said...

I remember reading the article, Philip. Simple minds advocate simple solutions.

The "simple" truth is that many conservatives just aren't very bright.

Stephen Harper has been successful because he knows how to manipulate simple minds.