The federal government is set to shut down the only public investigation into Ottawa’s handling of the F-35 fighter jet purchase, a move critics say is proof the Tories have something to hide.
“This seems to me like it’s classic government sweeping a bad thing under the rug,” said Jordan Bateman, the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation spokesman in B.C. “All they are doing is shooting themselves in the foot as this will leave a whole lot of questions unanswered.”
Andrew Saxton, parliamentary secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, told the House of Commons on Tuesday morning that the Conservatives feel they’ve delved deep enough into the issues surrounding the cost of the stealth fighters.
A motion to halt the investigation was introduced during a closed-door meeting of the Commons public accounts committee and would guarantee the committee could write its report without hearing any more witnesses.
Auditor-General Michael Ferguson has appeared three times before the committee along with ministers and the parliamentary budget officer. Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod said it’s time the investigation concluded and a report was written.
She said the government has already responded to Ferguson’s findings, freezing spending on the multi-billion dollar plan to buy the jets and taking away the Department of National Defence’s ability to buy new weapons. The time has come to move on.
“There’s nothing more other than the opposition making political points about this issue,” said McLeod.
Bateman said the taxpayers are paying for the jets and the public has a right to hear all the facts about the purchase. The only way that can happen is if the investigation continues.
The opposition also believes the investigation needs to continue. By halting the process now, the government is once again showing a lack of respect for democracy, said former federal NDP candidate Michael Crawford.
And he’s not surprised by McLeod’s comments, saying all of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s MPs are told to tow the party line.
“They’ve all been given their lines,” he said.