Auditor general slams Tories on F The Harper government froze spending on the multibillion dollar plan to buy new jet fighters minutes after the auditor oakley tightrope general produced a withering report accusing the Department of National Defence of keeping Parliament in the dark about spiraling problems with the F 35 purchase.
The government also announced Tuesday it would take away the DND's ability to buy new weapons systems and hand it to Public Works all in an effort to shield itself from the ensuing assault in the House of Commons that followed the release of the report by new Auditor General Michael Ferguson. "We certainly accept all the auditor general's recommendations," Kamloops Thompson Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod said during a phone interview from Ottawa. McLeod was quick to point out that her government hasn't purchased any F 35s, noting the Tories have only been working on the development of the jets with allies through the joint strike fighter program. "We actually haven't committed (to the purchase) in terms that we haven't placed an order," she said. Michael Crawford, the NDP's candidate during the 2011 election, said he isn't surprised oakley oil drum the prime minister froze funding for the project. There was no mention of the F 35s in last week's budget, only that the CF 18s need replacing, he said. Crawford is sure Harper saw the writing on the wall and took steps to diminish the issue. Ferguson's report puts the Tories in a bit of a predicament, he said. For years the government has touted the F 35 as the best military aircraft for Canada. Now they might have to back down and settle for a fighter that, in the public's mind, is second rate. "They've said no other plane will do. Well, what are they going to do now if they decide the F 35 is too expensive?" Crawford asked. "They're going to be saying we're settling for an inferior plane." McLeod maintains Canada needs to replace its CF 18s and the F 35 is a good choice given it's compatible with equipment used by our allies, she said. The Defence Department faced wide ranging scorn over its management of a plan to buy 65 new F 35 radar evading stealth fighters for what the military initially insisted would cost $9 billion. The cost of the purchase, which is already the largest single purchase of military hardware in Canadian history, will almost certainly be far higher than originally budgeted, Ferguson said in his report. Crawford hopes the government rethinks the purchase, saying the money could be better spent on beefing up search and rescue and the coast guard. "We can cheap oakleys sunglasses spend some of that money on our seniors and make sure they don't have to wait two more years for their Old Age Security," he said. Ferguson added Public Works should have done a better job of overseeing the purchase, but Ferguson was particularly scathing about the DND's failure to come clean on potential problems with buying the F 35. "Briefing material did not inform senior decision makers, central agencies, and the minister of the problems and associated risks of relying on the F 35 to replace the CF 18," Ferguson said in his report. "Nor did National Defence provide complete cost information to parliamentarians." oakley parts DND pointedly rejected criticism that it did not exercise due diligence in managing the project.
Ferguson's mandate limits his criticism to the conduct of bureaucrats, but his findings could be incendiary for the Harper government. The audit came just one week after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced $5.2 billion in cuts to public spending in his deficit fighting budget.
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