Ottawa, ON – Pierre Paul-Hus, Conservative Shadow Minister for Public Services and Procurement, Ben Lobb, Conservative Shadow Minister for Digital Government, and Kelly McCauley, Conservative Shadow Minister for Treasury Board, issued the following statement regarding the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates (OGGO) progress report that was submitted in the House of Commons:
“During this past session, the Committee heard testimony from countless witnesses attesting to how broken our procurement system in Canada is. This is especially alarming considering the new threats and environment that are emerging from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As Dr. Robert Huebert, Associate professor of Political Science of the University of Calgary put it: ‘we are heading into a new security environment in which air power is going to be increasingly important. We are leaving behind the type of environment in which we were able to have us operate in areas of air superiority.’
“What we have learned is extremely concerning. At a time when government should be most transparent and prepared, what we have witnessed is quite the contrary. A recurring theme in our two most important military procurement projects, the National Shipbuilding Strategy and the replacement of our fighter jets, is lack of transparency, delays and ballooning costs, perhaps best described by Allan Williams, a former assistant deputy minister at the Department of National Defence and president of the Williams Group, providing expertise in the area of procurement: ‘What else can we expect when the prices continue to escalate when we don’t have oversight? This isn’t complicated. When you abandon basic principles of accountability and transparency, you get the kind of disaster we’re in.’
“If there is one lesson to be had, it’s that when there is no accountability nothing gets done and Canadians suffer. Not only through rising costs, but from knowing their government does not have the equipment to protect them. Retired Vice-Admiral Mark Norman nailed the problem on the head when he said ‘we need to move away from this highly distributed approach where nobody, really, is ultimately accountable. And our need ‘for a more unified and simplified approach to procurement.’ He further notes that Britain and America have such a department.
“The previous Procurement Minister’s mandate letter had suggested such an agency, one devoted entirely to defense procurement. Strangely enough, it disappeared. But why? When asked in committee, Christian Leuprecht, Professor of Political Science and Economics at the Royal Military College offered his opinion: ‘There is a fairly clear answer: it is a question of political ideology. In other words, the more complicated the procedures, the bureaucracy and the accounting of the government, the more difficult it will be to buy anything or carry out the projects in progress.’
“Conservatives will never let ideology and political games get in the way of the safety of Canadians and will always respect the Canadian taxpayer that suffers two-fold from this irresponsible approach.”
The full report can be read here.