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 thank.

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

8:55 a.m.

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

Michael Ferguson

I'm not sure that actually complicated the audit very much at all. The complication there was more in the fact that there were two pieces to the audit. One was that we were looking at Canada's participation in the U.S.-led joint strike fighter program. The other was that we were looking at the processes within Canada that were leading to the announcement of the intention to purchase. The involvement of other organizations really didn't complicate our audit. It was just part of what was going on in the joint strike fighter program.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton North Vancouver, BC

Thank you.

Auditor General, there being some pretty creative interpretations of what your audit has concluded, I think it is vital for the committee to have a clear idea exactly what we're focusing on in this meeting. Could you please explain to us what, precisely, your one recommendation was?

9 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Very briefly, please, Mr. Ferguson, Mr. Saxton's time has almost expired.

9 a.m.

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

Michael Ferguson

Mr. Chair, for the record, the recommendation is contained in paragraph 2.77. I could read it for the record, or the members could refer to it, whatever you wish.

9 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

We're quite a bit over the time; we'll have to leave it at that right now. If Mr. Saxton wants one of his colleagues to pick up from there, they can do that.

Thank you very much, and thank you, Mr. Saxton.

Mr. Allen, you have the floor, sir.

April 26th, 2012 / 9 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Mr. Ferguson, for being with us today.

Let me thank my colleagues on this side of the table for exerting pressure on the other side of the table to make sure that you came first, because it's appropriate that you speak first to the chapters, sir, that are under your purview, first and foremost, before we speak to anyone else.

We have certainly appreciated when you've been before us at other times, and we certainly appreciate you being here today with Mr. Reed, the principal of this chapter, and Mr. Berthelette, who is also helping out.

Let me ask the first question to you directly, sir. Do you know who in cabinet knew about the full life cycle cost? Do you actually know who those cabinet members would be?

9 a.m.

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

9 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

So you don't know any of the names of particular ministers. Whether you can tell us them or not, do you know whether the Minister of Defence knew about the full life cycle cost? When I say full life cycle cost, I'm talking about the one you identified of $25 billion.

9 a.m.

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

Michael Ferguson

We identified in the chapter that the budgets for the costing information were approved. That would have gone through the normal process. I don't have the information to tell you who, exactly, was at the table when that was done, but certainly that costing information did go through process and those budgets were approved, as we state in the chapter.

9 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

So based on your information in the chapter, am I correct in stating that this information, because it was passed, would have been before the cabinet? For me, it's the particular departments involved, National Defence and Finance—they do budgets—and I would expect the Prime Minister would sign off on things like budget.

Is it fair to say that they would more than likely be the three individuals involved in at least that piece of authorization of $25 billion heading towards a budget? So that would be the Prime Minister, Minister of Finance Mr. Flaherty, and Minister of Defence Mr. MacKay.

9 a.m.

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

Michael Ferguson

Again, really, all I can respond to that question is that those budgets were approved. They went through the normal process, but I certainly don't have with me. I don't think I would even have access to information about who saw what when, other than to say that it went through normal process and it was approved. Those questions, in terms of specifics, are better addressed to the departments.

9 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

Sir, you've indicated that this, indeed, went before cabinet, as you said in the chapter, in the sense that it's a budget approval process and it went before cabinet. I believe that's what you're saying. You're not sure who actually saw it at cabinet. I accept that.

Can you tell me when, indeed, the $25 billion was authorized by the cabinet?

9 a.m.

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

Michael Ferguson

Paragraph 2.69 does state that, for example, “in 2008, a budget of CAN$16 billion was established to operate and sustain the F-35 over 20 years.” Again, I think that paragraph of the report indicates the amounts that were approved, that they were established budgets, and the timeframe of those approvals.

9:05 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

So you've used the amount $16 billion. Wasn't there another amount there as well, sir? Is there another amount that gives an actual total of approval?

9:05 a.m.

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

Michael Ferguson

Yes, the other amount was a budget of $9 billion for the acquisition of the fighter jets.