Tim Naumetz reported yesterday in The Hill Times, that the Conservatives plan to shut down the parliamentary investigation into the purchase of F35 fighter jets:
The government is set to shut down a Commons inquiry into Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s scathing report on hidden costs and broken procurement rules in the $25-billion F-35 stealth fighter jet project after Mr. Ferguson denied Department of National Defence allegations his April report contained incorrect information.
The Conservative move came just prior to last week’s House recess, when Conservative MP Andrew Saxton (Vancouver North, B.C) moved a motion during a closed-door House Public Accounts Committee meeting to end its inquiry after only seven hours of evidence and testimony from witness hearings and before opposition MPs had a chance to cross-examine the National Defence officials after they criticized Mr. Ferguson.
The motion to shut down the inquiry was revealed by Liberal MP Gerry Byrne, who now faces parliamentary censure for disclosing what went on behind closed doors.
The Conservatives argued during the last election that being found in contempt of Parliament was merely a matter of being outvoted. Now, they argue, the problem of contempt has disappeared, because they have the votes to make it disappear. They have the votes to force striking CP Rail workers back to work. They have the votes to pass the Budget Implementation Bill, even though most of its provisions are not budgetary. And, they claim, the public outcry against their tactics will fade before the next election.
Stephen Harper is not in the habit of consulting provincial premiers about anything. But he would do well to pay attention to Jean Chretien's fate. Before the Harper regime reaches the end of its mandate, there will be lots of people in the streets -- and they won't just be the kids in Montreal.
That will be the public's response to being treated with such contempt.