The truth about the F-35 fight jets

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Better the truth right from the start

Nothing but the truth?!

Stephen Harper should have told the truth about the cost of his F-35 fighter jets.

He wouldn't be in trouble as he is now, plunging in the polls like a loon into a lake.

It all began during the election campaign last spring.

He told us that his 65 Lockheed Martin fighter aircraft wouldn't cost a cent more than $ 15 billion. Nice pipe dream. They were already up to $25 billion and still climbing.

Harper knew! He had in his hands Defence Department documents which spelled it out black on white. The costs had increased from $ 15 billion to $ 25 billion. It wasn't his fault the price had gone up. It had gone up for everybody - for all eight other countries who had signed on to buy Lockheed's fighter jets.

If Harper had announced to Canadians that the price had just gone up, no fault of his own, ask Lockheed, everybody would have believed him, and nobody would have blamed him.

But no, he chose to stick to the original $15 billion figure, for reasons we still don't know.

Harper and his government ministers went around constantly repeating like parrots "15 billion, 15 billion, 15 billion."

The military, who knew the real cost, remained silent. Why contradict the boss and bring terror down on yourself?

When the Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, a man of integrity and competence, dared to refute the "15 billion" figure, Harper jumped all over him.

And when the Auditor-General, Michael Ferguson, a worthy successor to the honorable and competent Sheila Fraser, also contradicted Harper's false figures, he too got a taste of Harper's bile.

When Lockheed Martin announced publicly the correct figure, Harper and his gang remained silent rather than refute the manufacturer's figures.

One after another, the eight other allies who had signed on to the F-35s made "adjustments" as they liked to say.

Some, such as the U.S. government, reduced their orders. Others announced they would "delay" part of their order.

Still others, such as Britain, chose to cut down on frills to save money.

And Harper? He just kept right on telling everybody his F-35s would not cost more than $ 15 billion. The whole military world was convulsed with laughter, or crying for the sake of Canadians.

"It's cold up there, that makes him talk like that," said some Europeans.

As for Lockheed Martin, the company did not say a word, for fear of losing the Harper contract. They knew that Harper would eventually have to admit the $15 billion figure had gone up, probably when he is no longer in power.

This week, Harper is beginning to change his story. He still denies he was wrong. Harper is never wrong. Anybody will tell you that.

Now he would have us believe it was just "a different accounting method" either by Auditor-General Michael Ferguson, or Budget officer Kevin Page or by maybe "the Liberals" which includes anybody who doesn't agree with him.

He, Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of all the Canadas, is still right, as he is always right.

In his own way, of course.



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