Editorial — Feds must spend money wisely

Cabinet ministers should have blown the whistle when it became clear that F-35 costs were going up astronomically.

The Conservative government’s reputation for sound economic management is taking a big hit with revelations from the auditor-general about the process used to obtain F-35 fighter jets.

The new jets were known to cost about $25 billion, even before the last election. Yet the government and Conservative candidates consistently said the cost would be $14.7 billion.

This was based on figures from the defence department, which was given far too much sway in selecting the new jets. It is obvious that they were the department’s preference, and everything it did was designed to get the government to go along.

That’s where the Conservatives fell down. Whether it’s because the party has a stronger interest in defence issues than its Liberal predecessor, or because the ministers involved were relatively new to office (many of the decisions go back to 2006, the year the Conservatives took office), not enough tough questions were asked. Costs kept rising, and it is quite likely that the Conservative caucus had no knowledge of how quickly costs were jumping.

It appears from Auditor-General Michael Ferguson’s report that at least some members of cabinet did know, and they should have blown the whistle when it became clear that costs were going up astronomically.

To the government’s credit, it has now frozen spending on the fighter jet replacement program and has promised to be more accountable about decisions on the jets. It has also said it will be more diligent when making future decisions.

Members of cabinet who make decisions about government spending need to treat every decision as if it was their own money. Taxpayers are paying plenty of their hard-earned  income to the federal government, and their money should not be wasted because one department is able to hijack the procurement process.

The Conservatives won a majority  government last spring, largely on the basis that they would be the best stewards of tax money and would be the best party to help manage the economy.

Many Canadians still feel they are the party best positioned to do so. The party needs to prove to them, and to other more skeptical citizens, that it can take care when spending tax dollars and are ensuring taxpayers get the best bang for their buck.

Just because government is big is no reason it can’t spend wisely.

Just Posted

Three strong earthquakes reported off Vancouver Island

The quakes, all measuring more than 6.0 on the richter scale, were about 260 kilometres west of Tofino

Mother passes SD70 trustee torch to daughter in Port Alberni

Jane Jones loses after one term, but proud of her daughter Connie Watts

ELECTION 2018: Sharie Minions named Port Alberni mayor

Haggard, Solda, Washington, Poon, Paulson and Corbeil named councillors

Four incumbents re-elected to School District 70 in Port Alberni

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District board will have a new look

2018 municipal election: Few surprises on Vancouver Island

16 incumbent mayors will continue in their positions for four more years

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

B.C. oncologist changing the face of breast cancer treatment

Dr. Juanita Crook, a Kelowna oncologist, has seen 100 per cent success using brachytherapy to treat breast cancer in some patients.

Explosion at homeless camp causes brush fire on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews haul hundreds of metres of hose down ravine

Voting set to start in B.C. proportional representation referendum

Two-part ballots now being mailed to all registered voters

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

Most Read