Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The F-35 Debacle: Will There Be Fallout?

Not counting this post, in the past year I have written nine times on the F-35 jet controversy. I point this out, not to claim any particular perspicacity on the subject, (many others have written much more and in much greater detail than I have) but only to demonstrate how obvious to anyone with even a modest interest in the issue that the jets were going to cost significantly more than the Harper regime repeatedly claimed they would.

That is why it is so distressing to see the liars who govern Canada try to hide behind the Auditor-General's report which not only stated the obvious, but also, because Auditor Michael Ferguson's access was limited to the bureaucracy, was only able to lay the blame at the feet of the Department of National Defense. While Ferguson hinted that political oversight was lacking, his detailed analysis of the absence of due diligence in the information being supplied to the government, and the fact that no questions were asked, bespeak a gross incompetence that cries out for correction.

Unfortunately, that cry will likely result in no changes at all, partly because of the indifference of a woefully disengaged citizenry, and partly because there is little incentive for Harper to do the right thing. After all, he has a majority government, he is aware of the short attention span of the public, and I suspect that when he convinced Defense Minister Peter McKay to betray the Progressive Conservative Party by merging with the Reform Party, a certain immunity from Cabinet termination or demotion was conferred upon him. How else to explain the fact that his exceptional record of incompetence has gone unsanctioned for so long?

Finally, I watched the At Issues Panel on The National last night, with Andrew Coyne and Bruce Anderson. While both agreed that firings are warranted in this situation, Coyne going so far as to say McKay should be 'wearing' this issue, they both seemed to be giving the government a certain benefit of the doubt over the paucity of accurate information it received from the DND . While one of them suggested there might have been some willful ignorance on the part of Cabinet, there should be no question that government heads need to roll, given the tradition of ministerial responsibility and the fact that so much information was so widely and so publicly available to alert them to problems in the procurement assessment.

Anderson weighed in with the question of whether or not this entire debacle will even register with the larger public. On that gloomy prospect, I will end this post.

UPDATE: If you are interested in further analysis, Bruce Anderson has a piece that just appeared in the Globe in which, among other things, he laments what appears to be the end of ministerial responsibility and accountability.

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