Opposition says somebody should lose their job over F-35 debacle

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Auditor-General Michael Ferguson's report about the procurement of new fighter jets requires consequences.

The scathing report tabled Tuesday, paints a picture of deception and mismanagement with the Harper government at its centre.

Ferguson claims the plan to buy new jets was conducted in an uncoordinated fashion among federal departments, with key data hidden from decision makers and parliamentarians.

Certainly this damming indictment requires someone to be held to account.

Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae says it should be Stephen Harper.

On Wednesday morning, Rae told the Liberal caucus that Harper "is not fit to be the prime minister of Canada".

"This is the worst example of economic incompetence and fiscal dishonesty that this country has seen in a generation," Rae said according to the Georgia Straight Newspaper.

But in the real world, ministers take the fall before prime ministers.

But if not Harper, then who?

Tim Harper of the Toronto Star suggests defence minister Peter MacKay should be the 'fall guy.'

"How about poking your head in the door to check from time to time on the biggest expenditure of taxpayers dollars you have ever overseen?" Harper wrote.

"Instead, MacKay looked like a tourist on a magic bus of broken rules and financial sleight-of-hand, getting off just in time to announce the government's decision to buy the F-35s in July 2010."

Where was associate minister Julian Fantino or Chief of Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk who should have also been paying attention?

How about public works minister Rona Ambrose?

Her ministry, which acts as the government's procurement authority, is implicated for its decision to endorse the purchase of the F-35 without an open competition.

John Ibbistson summed up the Conservative's current predicament in his column for the Globe and Mail.

"Michael Ferguson, in 35 grim pages, exposes a Department of National Defence committed to acquiring the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft, and willing to obstruct, obfuscate and mislead in order to suppress any alternatives," he wrote.

"A government that promotes itself as a responsible steward of the economy has bungled the biggest and most important contract on its watch. A Prime Minister who practically branded criticism of the F-35 acquisition as treasonous must now deeply regret, and will have to eat, his words."

Eating crow is one thing. But who is accountable and who will pay the price for this debacle?