DND will have to re-cost purchases: MacKay

OTTAWA — Defence Minister Peter MacKay says last week’s auditor general report will force the military to recalculate the costs of tens of billions of dollars worth of planned equipment purchases.

OTTAWA — Defence Minister Peter MacKay says last week’s auditor general report will force the military to recalculate the costs of tens of billions of dollars worth of planned equipment purchases.

MacKay says routine, lifetime operating costs — everything from salaries and fuel to shoe laces and boot leather — will have to be factored into the projections for new programs.

In his criticism of the F-35 stealth fighter program, auditor general Michael Ferguson took the Defence Department to task for not including $10 billion in continuing operating expenses.

Those operating costs, separate from the maintenance bills on military hardware, include such things as the salaries of pilots and the fuel that goes into the planes.

MacKay has said including those expenses is something the Defence Department has never done, but it will comply with the instructions.

“If this is the way the auditor general wishes us to present program costs in the future, to include those salaries and fuels and fixed costs, we’ll do so,” he said in Halifax on Tuesday.

“And that’s part of the, I guess, lesson learned.”

That means coming programs, such warship construction under the $33-billion National Shipbuilding Strategy, will have to be re-costed to include the salaries of sailors and other routine items.

“We did not calculate it with a view to including the salaries of military personnel, or fuel, or oil,” he said, referring to shipbuilding program announced with fanfare last fall.

MacKay seemed exasperated at the thought of such an accounting exercise.

“If you went out … and bought yourself a new minivan and you wanted to drive it off the lot … you wouldn’t calculate the gas, the washer fluid the oil and give yourself a salary to drive it for the next 15 or 20 years.”

The Conservatives have a shopping list of ships, planes and armoured vehicles either on order or in the planning stages as part of their often-hyped Canada First Defence Strategy.

When it was announced in 2008, officials estimated the strategy would cost as much as $490 billion, most of it on new hardware and sustainment, over several decades.

Ferguson’s report accused the air force of keeping decision-makers in the dark about the short-comings of the F-35 project and essentially rigging the process in order to get the stealth fighter.

The defence industry levelled a similar accusation a few years ago when the Defence Department was shopping for a new search-and-rescue planes. In that instance, MacKay called for an outside assessment in the form of National Research Council report.

He ducked a question Tuesday about whether such practices indicate a systemic problem with air force procurement.

A series of briefing notes for MacKay show senior defence officials have paid a lot of attention over the last few years to the turmoil and lessons Australia has learned in the way it buys military equipment.

The Australian Defence Organization, a procurement agency separate from that country’s defence ministry, was trashed a few years ago by their auditor general for the way warship construction was handled.

The appointment of Julian Fantino as associate defence minister last year was seen by some in military circles as a step toward setting up a completely separate procurement branch.

But MacKay said Tuesday that such a decision belonged on the prime minister’s desk.

Asked why he seemed more willing to defend the F-35 purchase than some of his cabinet colleagues, MacKay replied: “I’m just an optimistic guy.”

The opposition parties have called on him to resign or be fired.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Heather Buelow, owner of Aerial Edge Studio in Blackfalds, says she has spent ‘all of my saving keeping the studio going’ through government-mandated shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Either open in-person or close permanently: Central Alberta yoga studio defying rules

A central Alberta woman is allowing clients back into her yoga and… Continue reading

(MaxPixel)
Sandra Schmirler Foundation donates $10,000 to Red Deer hospital

Donation will go towards electronic fetal heart monitoring project

A sustainability audit for Westerner Park suggested 33 changes, including more city involvement. (Advocate file photo)
Westerner Park expands volunteer program

As Westerner Park refocuses the organization, they are reigniting their emphasis on… Continue reading

Ukraine’s leader requests a talk with Putin, gets no answer

Ukraine’s leader requests a talk with Putin, gets no answer

Madelyn Boyko poses along with a number of the bath bombs she makes with her mom, Jessica Boyko. Madelyn says she enjoys making the bath bombs with her mom as it is a special time for just the two of them. (Photo Submitted)
5-year-old Sylvan Lake girl selling bath bombs in support of younger brother

Madelyn Boyko is selling bath bombs for CdLS research in honour of her younger brother

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on December 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Patrick Doyle
New regulator to stop sexual exploitation of children online: public safety minister

OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the government will introduce… Continue reading

Gordon Greenwood Elementary Grade 7 students were assigned to write about climate change. The Langley Advance Times is pleased to present a selection of their writings. (Sasha/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

OTTAWA — A new report shows Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he will vote against a… Continue reading

Eugene Kwon of Gratia Bakery and Cafe says the business will be relying on take out orders and a small patio. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

OTTAWA — A group representing thousands of the country’s small businesses says… Continue reading

Ron Howard is photographed at the "Inferno" film premiere on Oct. 25, 2016 in Los Angeles. (Buckner/Rex Shutterstock/Zuma Press/TNS)
Brothers Ron and Clint Howard have memoir coming in October

NEW YORK — Filmmaker-actor Ron Howard and actor Clint Howard, brothers, former… Continue reading

FILE - In this Saturday, March 27, 2021 file photo, Buffalo Sabres’ Taylor Hall plays against the Boston Bruins during the second period of an NHL hockey game, in Boston. The Buffalo Sabres could trade 2018 MVP Hall, who signed for just this season and is a pending free agent. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
Boston Bruins acquire Taylor Hall to kick off NHL trade deadline day

Trade deadline day in the NHL has started with the Boston Bruins… Continue reading

Most Read