By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 25, 2013 - 0 Comments
The NDP leader talks to the CBC host about the oil sands, the Senate, Quebec secession, the Liberals and his beard.
Colin Horgan thinks Mr. Mulcair needs to define himself.
Where the Conservatives and Stephen Harper have “jobs, growth and the economy,” and Layton had a “better lives for working class families,” theme, Mulcair has yet to successfully link his policy positions with his own personal brand. The emptiness begs to be filled, and all that talk of building better lives for middle class Canadian families wafting over recently from a front-running Liberal camp should not only be very familiar to Mulcair, but also potentially quite dangerous.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 3:26 PM - 0 Comments
From the Prime Minister’s interview with Global, Mr. Harper’s explanation of the F-35 procurement.
Dawna Friesen: Let’s talk fighter jets for a moment. I don’t want to go through all of the numbers because I think we’ve done that. What I’m wondering is why wasn’t there more transparency about the full cost of the fighter jet program right from the beginning, and do you wish in retrospect that there had been?
Stephen Harper: Well I think we’ve been very clear about what the numbers are that we projected, which actually have been validated by the recent KPMG report. But what the Auditor General said in the spring was he looked at the process as it had gone to this point and let’s remember we’re very early in the process. We haven’t spent any money on acquiring the next generation of fighter jets, but he said that he thought that both the costs and the options analysis had not been as thorough as it should be. So, based on that, the government has reset those parts of the process and we’re going through that again. As I say, I think the cost numbers from the KPMG report look in fact, identical to what the government has budgeted but they’ll also do an options analysis. I think what happened here, I think it’s very easy to explain the process whether it’s right or wrong, is that you know, back in 1997, the previous government made a decision with an international … with its allies to be involved in an international consortium to actually develop the new fighter jet and to make sure that Canadian industry was part and parcel of the development of that airplane, as opposed to coming in after the fact and trying to get what we can an industrial and regional benefits.
Dawna Friesen: And so there would be Canadian jobs?
Stephen Harper: There would be Canadian jobs, a much more profound position of Canada in the worldwide supply chain for this aircraft. I think because of that, an assumption was just made all along the way that of course, if we’re developing this plane, this will be the plane we’re purchasing. It’s not an unreasonable assumption, but I think what the Auditor General pointed out is because of that, National Defence had not done as thorough an analysis as it should on some aspects of this, both the costs and options and that’s what we’re now doing. And we will continue to do that. And we’ve been very clear; we’ve set up a multi-stage process. We set up some independent expert panels and we’ll go through this step by step to make sure we are making the right purchases. The CF-18, the current fighter jet fleet will start to reach the end of its life in the middle to end of this decade and we’ll make sure both that we have aircraft ready to go when we need that and also at the same time that Canada is involved in the development of next generation airplanes.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 14, 2012 at 11:34 AM - 0 Comments
Colin Horgan finds that an old accounting for the F-35 procurement seems to have disappeared.
What does Parliament know about what the government is doing? And what does the government know about what the government is doing?
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 1:35 PM - 0 Comments
The report found the Finance Department examined the long-term fiscal sustainability implications of major policy decision only when officials considered it relevant, an approach the auditor general said is reasonable. However, the report also concludes Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was not provided with projections about the long-term financial impact of measures announced in the March 2012 budget until August 2012. “This means that senior management and the Minister of Finance were not informed of the overall impact on the government’s long-term fiscal position until well after they had approved the budget measures,” the report says.
The federal government did not conduct long-term fiscal projections of the impacts of multibillion-dollar major policy decisions such as reducing the GST to five per cent and offering a GST/HST credit to low-income earners, since it did not expect the costs relative to GDP to grow, nor did it examine the long-term fiscal implications of pension income-splitting. Federal officials did, however, examine the long-term fiscal implications of other major measures examined by the auditor, including trimming the annual funding increases in health transfers to the provinces, and increasing the eligibility age for Old Age Security to 67 from 65.
Colin Horgan places this in the context of the Harper government’s standoff with the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, August 24, 2012 at 2:04 PM - 0 Comments
Let’s consider what’s followed from the point where we all saw people like Stephen Lewis give blatantly partisan comments, referencing the letter, only days after Layton’s death. Fine for him. But from that point on, Wherry seems to argue, it has technically been up to us as to whether to allow the party spinners to dictate how we use those words. But, quite frankly, this is why people invented propaganda: to make sure words are no longer just words, and to make sure the spin sticks.
Consider, for example, the story Paul Dewar told Wednesday on the Hill — the one I quoted about how Jack Layton was one of those rare politicians who, unlike others, sincerely believed in optimism or hope. Dewar still used the words as if they were still abstract, shared notions, rather than the blatantly partisan terms the party had specifically designed them to be a year before. This is where the sleight of hand happens – and, again, I doubt Aaron would argue with me here. This whole time, the NDP has held up these words as if they were truly non-partisan and apolitical – just wonderful words – but at the same time used them in their intended form, as NDP slogans. So yes, they are sincere, in that they are sincerely tools for the financial and political gain of the party…
Fundamentally, I think Aaron and I agree. But maybe this is the difference: Wherry allows for the possibility that one can believe in love and hope and optimism even if you aren’t an NDP supporter. While I agree in part, I tend to think if that is the case, even if you do, you’re going to use different words to describe these sentiments because the NDP already owns those ones. And as soon as that’s the case, you’re losing, and the propaganda is eating you alive from the inside out. They have you by the balls.
I think if I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t have included the last paragraph of what I wrote yesterday. I think it muddled my argument. (In the coming days I will be unveiling a seven-point plan that renders that paragraph null and void and will, in future, object to anyone who attempts to reference it.)
Maybe there are two separate discussions here: one about Jack Layton’s letter and its inherent politics and another about how the letter’s words have been used since. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at 5:12 PM - 0 Comments
Politics relies on heroes and the deluded support of its partisans, of course, but we shouldn’t cheer each new delusion. The NDP are not fighting for John Lennon’s dream world. They’re fighting for the prime minister’s office by moving to the centre — a process Layton spearheaded.
He wasn’t a hero, wasn’t a saint. He was an uncommonly skilled retail politician who gained respect for practicing a brand of politics that was less greasy and vulgar and off putting than his opponents’. That’s not nothing. It’s quite a lot, really. I don’t begrudge anyone a good vigil. But ringing bells in towers for a nice guy and and a very good politician just seems a bit … much.
My contribution to the discussion is here.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 16, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
“Other numbers cited, obviously have to do not just with the acquisition of the F-35 but operations of the F-35,” he said. ”There’s more than one number, there’s more than one cost depending on what you’re counting. These things have all been well known for some time. But in terms of our numbers, I’ve been very clear.”
The PBO wrote in its report that a “rough” cost for the overhaul and upgrade for a single plane was “estimated at US$ 30.38 million +/- US$ 5 million per aircraft,” bringing the total overhaul costs over 30 years to that $3.9 billion. Going off the PBO’s analysis, calculating the costs of the program over 20 years rather than 30 would eliminate having to account for the second predicted overhaul of the fleet (which, according to the graph, would take a few years to complete).
With a 20-year projection, at least half the overhaul costs (those made at, or after, the 20-year mark) are discounted, along with whatever further costs incurred afterward up to (as the AG suggested) 36 years. So, the overall price comes down.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 9, 2012 at 11:43 AM - 0 Comments
Problem: The Department of National Defence says it needs 65 warplanes, but $9 billion may not be enough to purchase 65 warplanes of the F-35 variety. Luckily, Colin Horgan has a $3.5-billion back-up plan.
Assuming that money is available, the government could use that $3.54 billion to hold a separate, open and fair competition for another, different fighter jet. The second plane could act as an interim buffer to tide Canada over between the decommissioning of the CF-18s and the delivery of the F-35s.
Against the other international alternatives, the winner of that competition would likely be the F-18 Super Hornet – a plane suitable to Canada’s needs in the Arctic (it’s a twin engine, for one). The Air Force is already equipped to handle the F-18, and with its contract from Boeing, Canada could theoretically obtain a traditional industrial regional benefits package – another thing the F-35 program lacks.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 10:36 AM - 0 Comments
Twice last week—here and here—the Speaker seemed to fret that questions asked by the opposition were not sufficiently specific to the administrative responsibilities of government. I’ve noted this issue and the Speaker Scheer’s rulings in the past, see here, here, here and here. And now, as Colin Horgan notes, Peter Van Loan is voicing some concern.
For the sake of discussion, you can include a question the government side had Brent Rathgeber ask last month. One that was not ruled out of order.
Mr. Speaker, Albertans are very concerned about the NDP’s position regarding the oil sands. The NDP appears all too willing to abandon the interests of construction workers and oil sands workers. For example, both the former NDP environment critic, an Albertan, and the current leadership contender, Mr. Brian Topp, have called for a moratorium on oil sands development. Meanwhile, the NDP natural resources and environment critics have actually taken it up a notch and are telling our international trading partners not to trade with Canada.
Could the Minister of Natural Resources give this House an update on the latest academic research on the viability of the oil sands?
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 11:30 AM - 1 Comment
Colin Horgan watches Question Period.
There we had it. The prepackaged, ready-made plastic rhetoric, delivered directly from the Party Message Factory still hot, like a cardboard gruel mixed up in the dark basement of some think-tank strategy session and served directly to the masses over and over again in heaping spoonfuls — a beige, emulsified goo designed to infect the mind and glaze instantly.
In a word, it was unhelpful. But there will be more tomorrow. There’s always more.