Peter MacKay under fire for full cost of Canada’s Libya mission

Surprise surprise, Canada's defence minister is under fire - again.

This time Peter MacKay is being accused of misleading Canadians on the cost of the mission to Libya.

In a column published Thursday, PostMedia News dug up an old MacKay quote from October where he said total cost to Canadian taxpayers would be about $50 million.

"As of Oct. 13, the figures that I've received have us well below that, somewhere under $50 million," MacKay said - three days before the end of the mission.

"And that's the all-up costs of the equipment that we have in the theatre, the transportation to get there, those that have been carrying out this critical mission."

But buried in a report tabled in the House of Commons this week are Defence Department figures pegging the full cost of the mission at more than $347.5 million - almost 7 times more than what MacKay had said.

The opposition parties went on the attack in Question Period, Friday.

"What is it this time?" demanded NDP Deputy Leader David Christopherson, according to CBC News.

"That they still can't keep their numbers straight or that they're misleading Canadians?"

MacKay insisted his numbers were accurate.

"What I said was that, as of Oct. 13, the figures that I received from the department were under $50 million," MacKay said in response.

The minister continued, "Of course, the mission went on. There were extensions ... there was, in fact, then the cost of bringing equipment and personnel home. This is incremental costing."

Al in all, another bad day for Peter MacKay.

MacKay's other bad days over the past year:

Sept. 22, 2011: Peter MacKay forced to defend himself over a 10 minute trip on a search-and-rescue helicopter in July 2010. The helicopter picked up MacKay from a remote fishing lodge in central Newfoundland at a cost to taxpayers of $32,000.

Dec. 1, 2011: MacKay forced to defend himself again, after several news outlets obtained internal emails suggesting the helicopter pick-up was only to be under the "guise" of a search-and-rescue exercise.

Dec. 5, 2011: Reports surfaced that MacKay incurred pricey hotel tabs during conference stays in Europe, which saw one bill reach $1,452 per night.

April 2, 2012: There were loud calls for MacKay's resignation when auditor general Michael Ferguson tabled a scathing report claiming the Harper government's plan to buy new F-35 fighter jets was conducted with key data hidden from decision makers and parliamentarians.

Moreover, during a post-report conference, Ferguson said MacKay would have known that the F-35 was estimated to cost $25 billion, not the $14.7 billion the public was told in the weeks before the last federal election.

April 12, 2012: Liberal MP Marc Garneau offers an embarrassing critique of MacKay's handing the F-35 procurement debacle:

"I had to go to the question of: 'Is he trying to pull a quick one on us again, hoping the general public is not going to see this? Or is he not too bright? It went through my mind, I have to admit."

April 20, 2011: On the heels of the F-35 debacle, it appears a $2 billion competition to choose a supplier for up to 138 armoured infantry fighting vehicles went awry.

According to a story in the National Post, the procurement process was ground to a halt because the independent Fairness Monitor felt the the three bidders shortlisted didn't meet DnD requirements and therefore exposed the government to lawsuits.