Ottawa – Senior National Defence Critic for the Official Opposition, Jay Hill, said today that Prime Minister Paul Martin and his government can’t get their stories straight on the rushed purchase of two challengers jets from Bombardier in March 2002.
“The Privy Council told the Auditor General that ‘sound professional judgment guided this decision’. Public Works and Government Services’ excuse was that ‘legislation and policies provide for exceptions’. Then Paul Martin told the House of Commons today that ‘normal cabinet processes’ weren’t followed. Which is it?” asked Hill. “Does the Prime Minister stand behind this outrageous decision or not? If so, is he going to take responsibility for being the Finance Minister at the time the decision was made?”
In her investigation of the $101-million purchase of the two luxury jets for the use of the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers, Auditor General Sheila Fraser concluded that National Defence had no intention of replacing its Challenger VIP fleet before 2010, as the fleet was performing at close to 100 percent efficiency. “National Defence got its marching orders from the Privy Council Office to buy the jets, without competition, from Bombardier Inc., whether the department thought they needed them or not,” stated Hill.
“Mr. Martin claims that by the time he found out the rules were broken it was too late. Yet he failed to speak out,” Hill added. “He was strangely mute in this case, and his silence continued after he was kicked out of Jean Chrétien?s cabinet. Canadians couldn’t trust Paul Martin to safeguard their tax dollars then. Why should they trust him now?”
For more information, please contact:
Jay Hill, M.P. (613) 947-4524 or (250) 787-1194