Mulcair on the F-35

From the NDP leader’s interview with Tom Clark on the West Block.

Tom Clark: Let me take you to the other major story of the week and that is what’s coming up tomorrow, the F-35 report, the KPMG report is coming down. We basically already know what’s in it because the government has leaked most of the information. But what it comes down to is, that it’s going to cost this country about a billion dollars a year to have a fighter jet fleet. Is that an acceptable amount of money to you? 

Thomas Mulcair: The problem in this case is that they never proceeded as prudent public administrators. There are rules Tom that exist to protect the public money. And in this case, they’ve always used the half lie. They say well no money has been spent on acquisition. Well of course no money has been spent on acquisition, the plane doesn’t exist yet but you’ve spent $700 million dollars so far on the process. Seven hundred million dollars by the way is the exact sum of money required to lift every senior in Canada above the poverty line. That’s exactly how much it would take. So they are pretending that that’s not even real money. It is real money. You’re right, I mean it’s going to cost a certain amount to keep a fighter fleet and we need one. It’s part of our national defence but you proceed in the normal way of public administration. You say exactly what your needs are. For example, it has to be able to work in the arctic. Who knew the F-35 can’t work in the arctic. It has to meet Canada’s needs. We have to define what those are and then the lowest conforming bidder gets the contract. Who knew? That’s what public administration is about. The Conservatives talk a good game when it comes to public administration, public management, public money, but they’re abysmal failures when it actually comes to doing the job. And that’s what the F-35 debacle is about more than anything else. It’s a fiasco of public management and the Conservatives are going to wear this one for a long time. 

Tom Clark: So we know that they are going to be looking at alternatives but from your point of view, should the F-35 itself be off the table? Should we be only looking now at alternatives to the F-35? 

Thomas Mulcair: You define your need, you define your price range, and then you go to the lowest conforming bidder. I’m not saying anything should be off the table, that’s the mistake the Conservatives made. Even when they got caught in their series of lies the first time and they were derisive and dismissive and they were mocking anybody who dared even question them. And we didn’t know anything about this, how could we even ask questions of a great military genius like Peter MacKay. Now they’re going to have to wear it. Of course we should be looking at other options but if the F-35 can meet those criteria, that’s too but you have to say what they are. They’ve never even done that basic exercise. That’s the real problem here. We have the CF-18’s right now. There’s something called the super…that’s the Hornet. There’s something called the Super Hornet, it’s very close and a lot of the preparatory work is already done. We’ve got teams that are already prepared to do that. That would be one of the first ones I’d look at. There are other planes in the world Tom that could be looked at, but again if we haven’t even defined what our own needs are, how are you going to be able to say that you’ve got the lowest conforming bidder?

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