Thursday, April 05, 2012

Rae's clever privilege motion on the F-35s

Here it is, the full text:

Liberal Leader Bob Rae's Point of Privilege

(h/t to David Akin for posting)

The most important parts are at pages 5-9. Essentially, Rae's point is that the Auditor General's report says one thing. The Harper ministers, on the other hand, said very different things in the House of Commons this week in speaking to the Auditor General's report. This is important.

In the AG report, there are both facts and conclusions presented. DND, Industry Canada, and Public Works say, in the report, that they agree with the AG's facts. But they collectively disagree with the conclusions of the AG.

The problem for the government is that ministers stated in the House of Commons that they agreed with the conclusions of the report. Those instances are itemized by Rae on pages 7 & 8.

Now if they agreed with the conclusions of the AG, here is what the Harper ministers were agreeing to with respect to DND's role:
2.80 National Defence did not exercise due diligence in managing the process to replace the CF-18 jets. National Defence did not appropriately consult Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) on the procurement implications of the 2006 MOU for the third phase of the JSF Program or develop an appropriate plan for managing the unique aspects of the acquisition. Problems relating to development of the F-35 were not fully communicated to decision makers, and risks presented to decision makers did not reflect the problems the JSF Program was experiencing at the time. Full life-cycle costs were understated in the estimates provided to support the government’s 2010 decision to buy the F-35. Some costs were not fully provided to parliamentarians. There was a lack of timely and complete documentation to support the procurement strategy decision.
That is, publicly, in the House of Commons, the Harper ministers are seeming to accept the AG's report in full. Yet, as Rae points out, they are being contradictory:
"In response the oral questions the Government accepts all conclusions of the Auditor General, while in written submission to the House through their response to the Auditor General‘s report, they reject several conclusions of the AG.

These two versions of reality cannot both be true. One must be a falsehood.

While it is not for the Speaker to determine what is fact what is clear is that the two versions of reality leave this House with significant confusion on this issue. Indeed the two versions seem to be an attempt to deliberately confuse the House."
What is the truth here? There are indeed two versions and Rae has cleverly boxed in the government. Truth matters, parliamentary procedure matters, respect for Parliament matters. This government seems preternaturally unable to act in truthful ways. And it's no wonder, it's getting worse for the government: "Federal cabinet knew F-35’s true $25 billion cost before election: Auditor-General."

Motions like these keep the government on the hook.

Now we await young Scheer's ruling.

P.S. All of the above totally missed by the "Official Opposition," by the way.