Monday, April 09, 2012

It All Depends On Who Keeps The Books

Yesterday, Peter Mackay admitted that the Auditor General was right. Mackay and his cabinet colleagues had known that the F-35's would cost $25 billion. The difference between the $14.7 billion figure, which the government touted, and the Auditor General's number was simply a matter of accounting:

The $10-billion difference is accounted for by a "different interpretation in the all-up costs at arriving at $25 billion," MacKay told CTV's Question Period on Sunday.

"It is a different calculation than an acquisition. We have always said that $9 billion is the cost of the aircraft. There's an additional $5.7 billion then for maintenance," MacKay said.

"But the $10 billion is money that we're paying right now. That is, money that goes to pay the pilots of the CF-18 program and fuel, oil, upkeep of the existing fleet."

Ferguson's figures are based on calculations that differ from how accounting for major procurements has always been done, MacKay said.

This is an argument we've heard before. The In and Out Scandal, the government claimed, resulted from a difference of opinion about how election costs should be recorded.

Essentially, Mackay  argues that the government is entitled to its own set of facts. The numbers, he says, are what we say they are.  It's the same tactic the Harperites employed when they were found in contempt of Parliament. It all amounted, Stephen Harper said, to being outvoted. He needed a majority government to guarantee that his numbers were accepted.

Like the Bushies, the Harpies believe that they make their own reality.


Anonymous said...

Suggest you review your article.. as it suggests Mackay said each F35 aircraft may cost 25 billion.. rather than the entire deal for F35's costing 25 billion ..

Regardless, Mackay strikes me as unemployable and glib, has no ministerial or management capability and certainly has no standing regarding accounting or truthfulness..

Owen Gray said...

Your point is well taken. I missed the word "each" -- and I have made the correction.

Thanks for the tip.

thwap said...

Peter MacKay: "Huh? Oh, yeah, well, if you consider some add-ons, some maintenance, ... then yeah, there's an extra $10 billion or so. But we didn't think $10 billion was worth mentioning."

What a tool.

Owen Gray said...

Mackay sounds more like a used car salesman than a Minister of Defence, thawp.

Dave said...

Not one reporter or interviewer has asked the single most revealing question: What are the Life Cycle Costs? That would put MacKay onto the floor.

The business of stating that pilots' wages, fuel and day to day maintenance don't figure into their equation because "we pay them anyway" is false assumption. The cost of operation involves all of those things. It involves training costs for not just pilots but direct ground support. An F-35 technician doesn't just pop out the bushes at Cold Lake.

The 20 year life cycle is also bogus. The F-18 is now in its 30th year of service and into its second upgrade.

MacKay is showing a disturbing lack of knowledge on the subject.

Owen Gray said...

I get the impression that Mackay has simply been AWOL as Defence Minister, Dave.

He really doesn't appear to be on top of any of the details.

Incidentally, your recent posts on the F35 file have been superb.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

We should have learned by now to not believe the financial estimates of the Conservative government. They always show contempt for parliament seldom giving them enough information to do their job of being the loyal opposition.

I think these expensive jet, at any price, are not what Canada needs. I understand the professional soldiers want the pride of having the most high tech toys.

Why do we need such jets? I have yet to hear an answer except that we can fit hand in glove with the US military.

The prior question we should as is "Who are our enemies?" Unless we have plans to fight the US we have none that require us to have such fighter jets. Such jet may already be obsolete as future wars may use remote control planes.

We need to ask what we need to defend our sovereignty? We need helicopters, transport aircraft, air ships and ice breakers to defend and service our Arctic. The Arctic is the area most in need of defending sovereignty.

Certainly joining the US in foreign military adventures is not in our best interest.

Owen Gray said...

The Harperites believe, Philip, that the military's chief priority is not to defend Canada, but to project power in key areas around the world.

If defending Canada was the Harper government's top priority, they would have chosen another plane.

They have downgraded Foreign Affairs and juiced up the military. It's the classic response of the kid who -- after he has been beaten up on the playground -- seeks vengeance on his tormentors.