Mr. Speaker, the last time I asked a question about the purchase of the F-35s, I mentioned that several countries no longer want F-35s. Great Britain, Turkey, the Netherlands and Denmark are backing away or seriously reconsidering their decision. Australia wanted about 100 F-35s initially, but now it plans to order just 14. When I asked the question, I mentioned that U.S. senators had publicly expressed concern about the cost of the planes. I also pointed out that, as designed, produced and, most importantly, tested, the F-35s are not suitable for use in Canada, particularly in the far north and the Arctic.
I also noted that the Associate Minister of National Defence, of whom I asked the question, had alluded to a plan B. I told him that we wanted to know more about that plan. The minister's answer was, once again, disappointing but not surprising: he asked me what ridiculous sources I had consulted. I think that most of this information is public. Anyone can look it up on Google or in the Library of Parliament. It would not be hard to find out where the information comes form. But I will use this time to sum up why the F-35 deal has turned into such a fiasco.
First, there was no tendering process, despite the government's repeated claims to the contrary. There were plans for a tendering process. Internal memos from 2001 to 2006 were obtained under the Access to Information Act. The intent was to launch a tendering process for aircraft to replace our outdated jets. Beginning in 2006, there was no further mention of tenders. Coincidentally, this government came to power in 2006.
Another important aspect of this fiasco is the price. The government continues to claim that the purchase price for 65 jets will be approximately $4,875,000,000, which amounts to $75 million per jet. However, when we look at other sources of information, which are even more credible than the Canadian government, the U.S. Government Accountability Office or GAO estimates that the cost of the jets is between $115 million and $156 million, doubling the total cost to almost $10 billion.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer has also done a study that corroborates the GAO figures. If we add proposed maintenance costs, the government estimate is about $5.7 billion over 20 years. However, the GAO, an impartial, neutral and independent body, is estimating triple the cost, or about $18.7 billion in maintenance costs over 20 years. Therefore, instead of $10 billion over 20 years, as estimated by the government, the cost of the jets could be $30 billion over 20 years.
We continue to pose the question to the Associate Minister of National Defence because we have not been given an answer. The answers provided by the government are not credible and are not corroborated by facts or external studies by independent bodies responsible for providing information on the budget process, whether American or Canadian.
That is why I would like the person who answers this evening to provide more information, the information we have been after for months in this House.