Liberal MP Gerry Byrne alleges Conservative MP Andrew Saxton is trying to ensure senior departmental officials don’t testify during committee hearings into the Auditor General’s F-35 findings.
“His motion is for one purpose and one purpose only, it’s to stop the witness list that I’ve proposed from being called and it’s to ensure that basically only the ministers will get called and they can run roughshod with the truth as they see fit,” Mr. Byrne told The Hill Times after Mr. MacKay explained the government’s position following a scathing report on the F-35 from Auditor-General Michael Ferguson…
Mr. Byrne said Mr. Saxton made it clear during an in-camera discussion of his motion after Mr. Ferguson appeared at the committee that the government will allow only the main Cabinet ministers involved—Mr. MacKay, Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose (Edmonton-Spruce Grove, Alta.,), Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino (Vaughan, Ont.) and Industry Minister Christian Paradis (Mégantic-L’Éerable, Que.)—to show up and testify.
When Tony Clement and John Baird testified about the G8 Legacy Fund last November, they brought four officials with them.
Update 12:20pm. Responding to the Hill Times story, the Prime Minister’s Office dismisses Mr. Byrne’s version.
The chief spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) said the government does not want to restrict the committee witness list for hearings on the F-35 report and called Mr. Byrne’s allegation and The Hill Times’ story “100 per cent incorrect.”
“At no time was Saxton calling ministers. That is a complete fabrication from Byrne. Had you bothered to ask, you would have learned that the government plans on welcoming officials to testify at committee,” Andrew MacDougall, Mr. Harper’s communications director, said late last night in an email to The Hill Times. “At any rate, you needn’t have relied on Mr. Byrne to speak to the government’s plans. Mr. Saxton’s motion was public for all to see.”