Conservatives call for closing F-35 scrutiny

Conservative MP for the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Cathy McLeod defends move to close F-35 jet investigation

The federal Conservative government has called for an end to the public investigation into the issues surrounding the costs of procuring F-35 fighter jets.

Federal NDP Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Riding Association president Garry Worth said he thinks Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government is furthering their “real credibility issues” with the stealth-fighter file.

“It looks like they are trying to sweep it under the rug once again because they haven’t been able to come clean with the real story of the F-35s.

“It’s typical Harper mannerism … with that whole ‘no reporting to the Canadian people’ kind of process.”

The controversial fighter jet issue intensified in April after Auditor General Michael Ferguson released an incriminating report on the matter.

The report placed National Defence bureaucrats in the spotlight for several related problems, including failing to disclose F-35 costs were $10-billion higher than promised before the last election.

Just prior to Parliament shutting down for the summer break, Liberal MP Gerry Byrne spoke out about a motion introduced by the Conservatives to allow the committee to issue its report without hearing any more witnesses.

Meanwhile, Worth likened it to the streamlining of the federal environmental review process for resource development, during which, he explained, three ministers presenting “useless information that everybody’s already aware of” used up about half of the committee’s time.

“That’s the Conservative’s mantra. That’s how they get around having any meaningful input at committee hearings; they just control them and they bully them.”

However, Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod said it has been a “complete” investigation and it was time for the committee to wrap it up and write its report.

“They’ve studied this issue for over a month, which is a long time for a parliamentary committee to focus in on one issue.”

The committee also heard from the auditor general three times, she noted.

“That’s an extraordinary number of times he has attended.”

McLeod explained the defence ministers have answered more than 100 specific questions in hearings and has heard from both officials and witnesses. She noted the government has tabled its plan of how it is moving forward.

She disregards allegations her government is attempting to forestall the outcome.

“When the Opposition said we are ‘shutting it down’, it’s strictly political nonsense.”

Worth said he thinks McLeod is “towing the party line.”

“I really wish McLeod would stand up and be counted at times on some of these debates. I’m sure her constituents have just as much concern about the F-35 bidding process and all kinds of issues, but she doesn’t seem to want to stand up to Harper.”

Meanwhile, federal Liberal Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Riding Association acting president Ernie Cordonier said the Conservatives’ move to end the public investigation into its actions with the fighter jets “lacks due process” for democracy.