We can look forward to lots of conflict of interest stories next week.
Our air force needs a replacement for its ageing fleet of Hercules transport aircraft, and some of the main contenders are coming to Ottawa this week eyeing the $12 billion-plus deal. Luckily for Conservative defence minister Gordon O'Connor, at least one of the contenders aren't strangers. He used to work for one of them.
Back when he was a lobbyist with Hill & Knowlton (and by back when, I mean way back in 2004) one of O'Connor's clients was Airbus. And now, Airbus is one of the contenders for that billion-dollar contract, and O'Connor is the minister of national defence. I bet they're pleased as punch.
While naming a former defence lobbyist your defence minister is just, well, dumb and arrogant, this particular contract shouldn't have been an issue. That's because, since the military needs these new planes rather badly, some months before the election the Liberals attempted to fast track a process to buy new Hercules C-130J aircraft from Boeing. These were the aircraft the military wanted, and a fast track process would ensure they got them more quickly.
Not so quick, though. The Conservatives balked and raised all kinds of hell, and the Liberals backed-off. They wanted Airbus to be able to bid too, even if it meant the military waiting years longer to get the aircraft. And who was leading the charge for the Conservatives? If you guessed their defence critic, and former Airbus lobbyist, Gordon O'Connor, that give yourself a pat on the back.
So, defence critic O'Connor helped kill the contract going to the competitors of his former clients, and now defence minister O’Connor gets to help decide who does get the contract. If it goes to Boeing after all he looks pretty stupid for the wasted time, money, and delay in the military getting the aircraft, and if it goes to Airbus he looks really bad because even if he doesn't interfere one iota, he is in a completely untenable position because there would still seem to be to anyone with a pulse at the very least the appearance of be a conflict of interest.
Anyway, as the Ottawa Sun reports it looks like the aerospace road show is coming to town, towing the conflict of interest wagon right along with it. Should be fun.
Defence contractors lining up to land plum contracts
By STEPHANIE RUBEC, PARLIAMENTARY BUREAU
Armed with dirt on their rivals, the world's largest defence firms are converging on Ottawa this week in anticipation of a flood of billion-dollar federal contracts under the new Conservative government.
P.S. And it’s not just Airbus. O’Connor also lobbied for BAE Systems, General Dynamics, and some 24 other defence companies. I wonder how many will now be getting-in on that “flood of billion-dollar contracts”?Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers