By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 21, 2013 - 0 Comments
Dan Ross, the former assistant deputy minister of defence materiel, tells Postmedia that the Harper government is to blame for the handling of the F-35.
Ferguson said officials failed to communicate the F-35’s risks, including escalating costs and schedule delays, to Parliament and decision-makers. Ross says National Defence had all the information — but the Harper government wouldn’t let officials go public with it. “For seven and a half years, whenever a journalist asked to do an interview, it was denied,” he says. “The Defence Department doesn’t communicate and it asks the (Prime Minister’s Office) for permission and they say no, and no one ever communicates. If we’d had a tech brief bi-weekly that had the good news and the bad news, the facts, went through costing in great detail, I don’t think you’d be in the same place,” he says.
In the lead-up to the 2011 federal election, Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page asked officials in Ross’s section to discuss the true cost of the F-35 program as he prepared a report about the stealth fighter’s pricetag for Parliament. Ross says he never received approval from above for the meeting. “At the end of the day, communications in federal governments is a political decision,” he says. “Bureaucrats don’t get to decide.”
Lee Berthiaume previously detailed how defence officials avoided the Parliamentary Budget Officer in 2011. Mr. Ross appeared at a news conference in March 2011 to attempt to counter the PBO’s report on the F-35.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 1:07 PM - 0 Comments
Ahead of the release of the KPMG audit, here is the transcript of the September 15, 2010 meeting of the national defence committee, at which Peter MacKay, Rona Ambrose, Tony Clement, assistant deputy minister Dan Ross, assistant deputy minister Tom Ring and Lieutenant-General J.P.A. Deschamps appeared to discuss the F-35. Two months earlier, the Harper government had announced it was “acquiring the fifth generation Joint Strike Fighter F-35 aircraft.”
Mr. MacKay was enthusiastic in his opening statement to the committee.
Our commitment, colleagues, to procure the F-35 is part of the overall strategy to give the Canadian Forces the tools they need in order to deliver security to Canadians…
When we retire the CF-18s between the years 2017 and 2020, as we inevitably must, we will need a capable replacement. The Lightning II joint strike fighters will inherit those key responsibilities and are the ideal aircraft, in my view, to allow our men and women in uniform to accomplish their work. This is the right plane. This is the right number. This is the right aircraft for our Canadian Forces and for Canada. In fact, it’s the best plane for the best air force. We believe they deserve this equipment. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
The House doesn’t reconvene until Monday, but the public accounts committee will meet this afternoon to, presumably, launch its study of the F-35 procurement. The committee won’t hear from witnesses today, but might settle on a list of witnesses it wishes to hear from. The Liberals have identified ten individuals they’d like to hear from:
Michael Ferguson, Auditor General of Canada
Kevin Page, Parliamentary Budget Officer
Dan Ross, Assistant Deputy Minister (Materiel)
LGen J.P.A. Deschamps, Chief of the Air Staff
Michael J. Slack, F-35 Project Manager, Director of Continental Materiel Cooperation
Col D.C. Burt, Director, New Generation Fighter Capability
Tom Ring, Assistant Deputy Minister, Acquisitions Branch
Johanne Provencher, Director General, Defence and Major Projects Directorate
Richard Dicerni, Deputy Minister, Industry
Craig Morris, Deputy Director, F-35 Industrial Participation
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
As noted yesterday, the idea of there being a “contract” to purchase the F-35 seems to have changed. (Here and here are other examples of Mr. Harper using the c-word. And here is Michael Ignatieff using it. And here is Bob Rae using it five months ago.)
When the Prime Minister was confronted about his terminology last month, he explained that he was referring to a “memorandum of understanding.” That MOU was signed in December 2006. The decision to acquire the F-35 was announced in July 2010. And here is a handy fact sheet explaining the MOU.
Canada is buying the F-35 is through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) versus signing a contract…
Signing the MoU in 2006 did not commit JSF partners to buy the F-35, instead it laid out the terms and conditions should a partner country decide to purchase the aircraft.
Peter MacKay did refer to an “MOU” on two occasions in 2010, here and here. Tony Clement managed to describe it as both a memorandum of understanding and a contract. But that a contract had not been signed seems to have become a point of emphasis five weeks ago, when Julian Fantino stood in the House and said so.
But that is not quite the end of it. Understandably, the memorandum of understanding is referenced numerous times in the Auditor General’s report. Here is how Postmedia’s Lee Berthiaume summarized the relevant findings earlier this week.
The report says that in convincing the Conservative government to sign onto the MOU, the military talked up the potential billions in contracts Canadian industry could secure if the country continued to participate in the project. However, “while ministers were told, correctly, that signing the 2006 MOU did not commit Canada to buy the F-35, we did not see evidence they were told that retaining industrial benefits depended on buying the F-35 as a partner in the [Joint Strike Fighter] program.”
… Defence Department officials also did not tell ministers that by signing the memorandum of understanding, the government would be hard-pressed to run a fair competition in the future to replace Canada’s ageing fleet of CF-18s.
And now, quite interestingly, here is John Ivison’s latest column. He turns to an October 2010 meeting of the defence committee and an exchange between Dan Ross, the assistant deputy minister for material at National Defence, and former Liberal MP Bryon Wilfert. Mr. Ross apparently argued that holding an open competition to replace the CF-18s would require withdrawing from the memorandum and that would result in penalties and loss of benefits. But Mr. Wilfert was not convinced. Continue…