Then this week, Chris Alexander, parliamentary secretary to the defence minister, denied in an interview that the government had ever decided to buy the F-35 — and accused opposition parties of sowing confusion on the issue. This was despite a long public record showing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and several cabinet ministers repeatedly committing to and defending the stealth fighter since 2010.
“Governments do this all the time, and it’s totally understandable that they would try to change the conversation,” said University of Ottawa defence expert Philippe Lagasse, who participated in the NDP’s hearings on the F-35 on Tuesday. “The problem is there’s so much public evidence, that really you’re inviting mockery.”
But while analysts agreed Alexander’s comments were bizarre, they said they serve the purpose of muddying the waters and making it difficult for average Canadians to tell who’s telling the truth. “As a taxpayer, the annoyance is the Conservative government hasn’t been entirely straight,” said Nossal. “Instead what the government has done is kind of spin this in a way that is actually quite confusing to ordinary Canadians.”
Beyond The Commons
Aaron Wherry covers all the goings-on in and around Parliament Hill. Follow Aaron on Twitter: @aaronwherry