The Harper government has decided to commit Canada to buy 65 stealth fighter aircraft, refusing to disclose the specific mission and role for which they are intended, and denying us, as Canadian citizens who will be paying the bill for decades, the protection of an open, transparent, and accountable purchasing process. This is a key issue in the ongoing election campaign.
The US process in which the US selected this aircraft for US purposes is not an acceptable proxy for Canada doing so for ourselves, for our own purposes. And, despite government claims to the contrary, our participation as observers in that US process does not commit Canada in any way.
They also claim that this will cost us a mere $16 billion, while the US GAO (equivalent to our Auditor General), as well as our own independent Parliamentary Budget Office, both advise that the cost will be more like $30 billion. This is a staggering discrepancy that the government denies but steadfastly will not, or cannot, explain, and further proof that this process is seriously flawed.
Without disclosure of the mission and a public tender how can we ensure that these are indeed the right aircraft, the right number of them and at the right price to properly equip our men and women at arms for the difficult and dangerous job we set for them?
In this short-circuited, secretive, process how can we ensure that appropriate checks and balances for such a massive purchase are in place and that we can indeed confer full economic benefit to Canada?
Why does the the Harper government refuse a full and informed public debate on this issue? And why will they not commit to a fair and open public tender, as fiscal prudence would dictate?