AG Report on F-35 Underlines Need for Fully Independent Parliamentary Budget Officer

Author: Gregory Thomas 2012/04/04

OTTAWA, ON: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) hailed today’s report from the Auditor General on the F-35 jet fighter program, saying it vindicates the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s cost estimates on the controversial jets.

The CTF called on the government to elevate the Parliamentary Budget Officer to a full officer of Parliament, with the same status and independence as the Auditor General.

“It’s now clear that the only reliable cost information on the F-35s given to Parliament or Canadians came from the Parliamentary Budget Officer – not the government, not the Department of National Defence, not any Minister responding to questions in the House of Commons, ” said CTF Federal Director Gregory Thomas.

“We applaud the work of Kevin Page and his staff in putting the real costs of the

F-35 in front of Parliament and Canadians,” continued Thomas.

The Parliamentary Budget Office pegged the cost of the F-35 program at $30 billion dollars in March 2011, pointing out that the $14.7 billion price tag provided by the Department of National Defence did not including operating, personnel or ongoing training costs.

“Canadians need the straight facts on government expenses such as the F-35, and the Parliamentary Budget Office provided straight facts when the generals, the ministers and the government were providing nothing but spin and bafflegab,” said Thomas.

The CTF is concerned that there will be pressure on a soon-to-be appointed Parliamentary Librarian (who is responsible for the Parliamentary Budget Office) to muzzle Page and his staff, to prevent similar embarrassments to the government in the future.

“If Canadians wants to stop this from happening again, they need to demand a Parliamentary Budget Officer who is hired by Parliament, reports directly to Parliament and answers to Parliament alone,” concluded Thomas.

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