Evidence of meeting #40 for Public Accounts in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was f-35.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Michael Ferguson  Auditor General of Canada, Office of the Auditor General of Canada
  • John Reed  Principal, Office of the Auditor General of Canada
  • Jerome Berthelette  Assistant Auditor General, Office of the Auditor General of Canada

10 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

Can I—

10 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Mr. Allen—

10 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

—get a list of those names for the committee?

10 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

I'm sorry, Mr. Allen. Your time has expired, sir.

10 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

Thank you, Chair.

10 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Mr. Dreeshen, you now have the floor, sir.

10 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Red Deer, AB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I welcome our guests.

I have just a couple of things. I know that what Mr. Hayes had mentioned.... Perhaps we can flesh out some of this information later when we talk to some of the other departments, but as for what Mr. Allen was just saying, I think in contrast to where he was going, there actually have been some real, significant, and successful benefits that we have seen. I know you pointed that out in your address as well. But we can perhaps talk to other folks about that and get into the details.

There are a few other things. Mr. Kramp wanted to get the actual recommendation on the record, so I would like to do that. What you recommended was that:

National Defence should refine its estimates for complete costs related to the full life cycle of the F-35 capability, and provide complete estimated costs and the supporting assumptions as soon as possible. Furthermore, National Defence should regularly provide the actual complete costs incurred throughout the full life cycle of the F-35 capability.

Again, I think what people need to recognize is that National Defence has agreed to that, has continued “to refine its full life-cycle cost estimates for the F-35 capability and commits to making the estimates and actual costs of the F-35 available to the public”.

Now, the other thing we have been talking about in great detail is the seven-point plan, though we've never actually put it on the record either. I know you're saying that it's going to take some time for you to look at how your recommendation, the response, and the seven-point plan are going to fit together, but just so the people know where people are going with this and know about the quick reaction that is taking place, I'd like to go through it.

Then, Mr. Chair, if I may, I'd like to give the rest of my time to Mr. Alexander.

The seven-point plan says this: commission an independent review of costs for the F-35, which will be made public; freeze the acquisition funding envelope; establish a new secretariat to play the lead coordinating role in replacing Canada's CF-18 fleet; continuing to identify opportunities for Canadian industry to participate in the F-35 joint strike fighter global supply chain; provide annual updates to Parliament; continue to evaluate options to sustain a Canadian Forces fighter capability well into the 21st century; and “Treasury Board Secretariat will also review the acquisition and sustainment costs of the F-35 and ensure full compliance with procurement policies prior to approving the project”.

Those are the details, so that everyone more or less understands what is happening, and of course, we look forward to your analysis as to how that works in the future.

Now, if I may, I would leave this to Mr. Alexander.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Let me just point out to the committee that, technically speaking, it is the purview of the committee to determine whether someone who is not a member will be given the opportunity to speak. I've never seen it turned down. I'm going to assume that everyone is in agreement that if they want to share with a non-member colleague that certainly a caucus can do that. Unless I hear an objection, I'm going to go to Mr. Alexander.

You, sir, now have the floor.

April 26th, 2012 / 10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Ajax—Pickering, ON

Thank you very much, Chair.

Thank you very much, gentlemen, for being with us here today.

I just want to be clear on one point. Mr. Byrne went to some lengths to imply that the purchase was more or less done or inevitable, but that the planes are hypothetical. Can you confirm for us that the purchase of replacement aircraft for the CF-18s has not taken place, but that the F-35 is a real aircraft, which is flying? There are several dozen prototypes of it that are being successfully tested. Could you just confirm those facts?

10:05 a.m.

Auditor General of Canada, Office of the Auditor General of Canada

Michael Ferguson

I think that is an accurate statement, Mr. Chair.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Ajax—Pickering, ON

Thank you.

In your statement, Mr. Ferguson, you used the phrase in paragraph 10 “managing a 25 billion dollar acquisition”. In the spirit of precision here, am I correct in assuming that what is referred to by that $25 billion you mention in paragraph 10 is not solely an acquisition but is acquisition, sustainment, and operational costs for 20 years?

10:05 a.m.

Auditor General of Canada, Office of the Auditor General of Canada

Michael Ferguson

That's correct.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Ajax—Pickering, ON

Would you agree that we should be careful in identifying which numbers refer to which costs as we move toward a full life cycle cost estimate for replacement aircraft for the CF-18?

10:05 a.m.

Auditor General of Canada, Office of the Auditor General of Canada

Michael Ferguson

That's a fair comment.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Ferguson, why, given that DND life cycle assumptions have been for 20 years, did you select a 36-year life cycle assumption?