Saturday, December 08, 2012

Fraud -- Pure and Simple

In case his readers have forgotten, Jeffrey Simpson reviews the increasingly tangled web of deceit which surrounds the F-35 fiasco:

The contract, insisted the government, would cost $9-billion for the aircraft, and $7-billion for maintenance over 20 years. Over and over, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and the entire Conservative chorus repeated this mantra.

Critics in the U.S. alerted Congress that cost overruns were plaguing the project. The Parliamentary Budget Office in Ottawa said, no, the cost would be more like $30-billion over 30 years, for which the PBO was predictably denounced by the Conservative chorus.

Alan Williams, a former assistant deputy minister who had forgotten more about procurement than any minister had ever learned, warned repeatedly that the project was off the rails. Predictably, the Conservative chorus denounced him. The Speaker of the House found the government in contempt of Parliament for refusing to reveal the full costs of the program, but that didn’t stop the government from being re-elected.

Other countries, alarmed at the F-35’s mounting costs and questionable technical reviews, began to delay purchase commitments. Still, the Conservative chorus stuck with the mantra, denouncing all doubters as anti-defence, pacifists and know-nothings.

Deeper and deeper, the Harperites dug themselves into the hole of their own rhetoric – until Auditor-General Michael Ferguson’s devastating report last April unveiled the true costs to be way higher than the government’s mantra. Worse, the report said the Defence Department had told the government that costs had skyrocketed. Yet, the government, campaigning for re-election, kept that information from the public.

The Harperites, as is their habit, all sang from the same hymnal. Most importantly, they did so during the last election, after they had been found in contempt of Parliament for not revealing the cost of the purchase. In a court of law, that's called fraud.

And they got away with it.


Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

This government is incapable of admitting errors. It looks like this file will be strung out so they will not have to. The final decision will be delayed until after the next election. If they win, they will claim a mandate to make whatever decision they ideologically want to. If the lose, it is someone else's problem.

There recent decision on foreign investment by state owned companies in the oil patch shows a similar pattern. They began sell off the country, only to learn that 70% of Canadians do not support their decision. They go ahead with it, not being able to admit they were wrong, only to changed their ideological views by suggesting new rules. They were incapable of admitting that what was wrong tomorrow, was also wrong yesterday. What an dishonest lot they are.

Owen Gray said...

Your comment is spot on, Philip. As Mark Twain wrote, "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt."

Lorne said...

I remember following this issue very closely when it was being vigorously pursued by Evan Solomon on Power and Politics. Lauri Hawn and the rest of the choir, despite strong evidence from both Kevin Page and the GAO in the U.S., both insisting on much higher final costs, continued to shamelessly insist that black was white and white weas black. Unfortunately, perhaps because we leaned to expect so little from our 'representatives,' the kind of civic outrage that would have occurred in an earlier time seems to be largely absent today,.

Owen Gray said...

And, remember, Lorne, they rode to power on the civic outrage which followed the Liberals' sponsorship scandal.

Obviously, the only lesson the Conservatives learned from the affair was, "Don't let anything come to light."

Anonymous said...

Does no-one realize? Just how long BC has yelled about the corruption and dirty tactics going on in this country? Since way back in Gordon Campbell's reign of terror in BC. That's how long.

We said. Watch out, China is sending their people to school to learn 100 English words, so they can take BC mining jobs. Did everyone miss this too. Campbell shipped BC mills to China, along with the raw logs, putting hundreds of BC mill people out of jobs? For BC people to work our BC mines??? They must speak Chinese Mandarin, to work in our own damned, English speaking province.

Did others miss? BC people yelled and hollered about, Harper and Campbell signed a sneak deal behind our backs? The deal that permitted Harper to force, the Enbridge pipeline onto BC? Now, China has Harper's permission, to sue Canadians of any form, that blocks Communist China's intrusions into our country?

CSIS even warned. China was making huge inroads into Canada. BC was specifically mentioned, Campbell sold BC's resources and resource jobs, to China long long ago. Nobody, but nobody listened.

Provinces with resources, should get the hell out of Harper's Canada. No doubt everyone will sleep right through that, and be taken over with no fuss, what-so-ever.

Let Harper have Ottawa and Alberta. The rest of the provinces don't need, nor want them. Oh gracious no!! Lets keep Canada intact, so we can all be sold out to Communist China, in one giant wealthy package together.

BC F.N. will carry on alone as usual, to fight to keep the Enbridge pipeline out of BC. We are supporting the F.N. We know all about the horrific pollution in China. They won't give a damn, if they do turn BC and our ocean, a wasteland of pollution, on land or at sea.

Owen Gray said...

If the polls are right, Anon, even the majority of Albertans are not happy about the Nexxan deal.

Canadians may be starting to wise up.

kirbycairo said...

Harper has spend nearly 20 years painting himself gradually into a corner. It is perhaps the most elegantly bizarre political dance in recent history and I am certain that it will be the fodder of political biographers for a long time to come, and an example (at an international level) of how a politician can destroy himself in cinematic slow-motion. Yesterday
was a remarkable moment of the tragicomedy of self destruction. Not only with the cancellation of the fighter-jets but the Nexen Deal. Fifteen years ago Harper was one of the loudest voice against Canada being in bed with China, of state ownership of resources, and of good "fiscal management." Then he began the construction of an elaborate corporate/petro State and so began his almost miraculous abandonment of everything he once claimed to stand for. It really is a remarkable narrative, it is almost as though one is watching a very slow mental brakedown. Is the Nexen deal the climax of the brake-down, and if so what will be the denouement? After all, here is the supposed king of the market in resources making a deal with the very devil of state-run capitalism (still euphemistically referred to as "communism"). If the centre is still holding, it surely cannot hold much longer.

Owen Gray said...

Some of us remember the outcry that arose at the creation of Petro Canada, Kirby. There should be no state owned oil company. It smacked of Communism.

Mr. Harper's acceptance of the Nexxan deal tells us exactly how important the "free market" is to the apostles of same.