Tories to shut down F-35 probe?

The Harper government is seeking to end the parliamentary probe into the planned F-35 fighter purchase after only nine hours of public committee hearings (Steven Chase, “Tories defend shutting down probe into costly F-35 purchase,” Globe and Mail, 29 May 2012).

Andrew Saxton, parliamentary secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, told the House of Commons last week that enough information has already been gathered in the Public Accounts Committee’s hearings and it is now time to write the report:

“We have heard from the Auditor-General three times: once for the report as a whole, once for the beginning of the chapter, and once at the end of the chapter,” Mr. Saxton said. “We have heard from senior government officials at two different sets of meetings that detailed the government’s response. We have heard from the Parliamentary Budget Officer to compare his numbers versus others.”

The committee has yet to hear any testimony from any of the three key ministers involved in the F-35 project (Peter MacKay, Julian Fantino, and Rona Ambrose), none of whom has even appeared before the committee. But apparently that’s the way the government would like it to remain.

“It’s the role of this committee to ask questions,” [NDP defence procurement critic Matthew Kellway] said. “They pledged accountability and transparency, so why are they now stopping Parliament from getting to the bottom of the F-35 fiasco?”

Sadly, Kellway’s question pretty much answers itself.

Time and again the Harper government has demonstrated an inability to listen to or learn from the advice of others, so preferring ignorance that many times it has even shut down its own sources of feedback and information. It also vastly prefers photo-ops and talking points to openness, transparency, and inclusiveness in its decisionmaking.

The prime minister might find that more listening and learning, and fewer $47,000 press conferences, would lead to better public policy and better management of the public purse.

At least, he might want to give it a try sometime.

Photo credit: DND

Tags: Andrew Saxton, Defence spending, F-35, Matthew Kellway, Prorogue state, Rideau Institute