Friday, October 08, 2010

F-35 opposition makes the PM furious

Active day on the F-35 file yesterday. Harper did his "infuriated" bit in Winnipeg on the F-35, again decrying any opposition to or questioning of his government's decision to sole-source this $16 billion contract:
“To do what Mr. Ignatieff and his allies suggest now is to put in jeopardy every single job in this room and every single job that depends on the aerospace industry with no possible upside whatsoever for the Canadian air force,” he said. “Their position here is playing politics with the lives of our men and women in uniform and the jobs of the people in this room, and we will not stand for it.”
Not too much hyperbole there. Ignatieff's reaction (from same link):
Mr. Ignatieff called Mr. Harper's remarks “offensive” and “absurd.” The Liberals, he said in a phone interview, are only asking “legitimate questions that have to be answered before any sensible Canadian will agree to buy these planes.”
Harper's problem is that the facts are lining up against his rhetoric. On Thursday there was testimony at a Defence committee that contradicted what Harper said above about aerospace jobs:
Mr. Williams said our original jet-fighter partnership allows Canada to purchase other jets without losing supplier contracts, which seems to suggest the government can safely sound the market for better deals.
That's Alan Williams, a long time public servant of 33 years, 10 of which were spent in defence procurement, who has made an articulate case on the need for a competitive bid on the F-35 purchase (which is a must read, similar to his opening statement yesterday).

Also, Williams suggested we're overpaying:
...Williams said a competitive bidding process could have shaved off $3.2 billion.
Not surprisingly, the Prime Minister is taking aim at Williams, mischaracterizing Williams' advice to the government of years ago on the F-35. Williams immediately termed it a "lie" when it was put to him. Factor this in to your credibility meters, Don Martin essentially called for a competitive process after Williams' testimony.

Good to hear a voice on the scene like Williams making a different case from the government. There aren't that many people who seem to be willing to do that, actually, other than the political actors involved and it helps the debate along.