Last week, Peter McKay took us on a trip down memory lane when he engaged in a spirited round of Liberal bashing to explain a delay in the delivery of the choppers (Sea King replacements) the previous Liberal government (finally) ordered for the military.
Now, regular readers know I’ve never been a defender of the poor record of past Liberal governments on defence spending -- frankly, that whole helicopter cancellation thing was pathetic -- and I'm not keen on the job Denis Coderre is doing for us as critic either...but also pathetic was MacKay’s over-reaching and unnecessary politicization last week. A manufacturer’s delay is a manufacturer’s delay, not a chance for grandstanding.
Since he likes trips down memory lane though, with his announcement last week of the C-130J Hercules contract I thought it might be interesting to take a more recent, and slightly more relevant, trip into the past.
You may not recall this, but the Liberals actually tried to buy these planes, these C-130Js, over two years ago. Yes, two years ago. Back in the fall of 2005. Then defence minister Bill Graham wanted to fast track the purchase, as the military needed these planes tout de suite. The money was allocated. The ball was rolling.
Feds announce $4.6-billion plan to buy new military transport planesAnd then along came Conservative defence critic (and former lobbyist) Gordon O’Connor. Not so fast, said O’Connor. There’s no rush. Let’s take our time. No more billion dollar boondoggles. And what about Airbus, he said (he used to lobby for Airbus). Let them bid too; you can’t rig this process to favour Lockheed.
Published: Tuesday, November 22, 2005
OTTAWA (CP) - The federal government has announced that it will go ahead with a plan to buy about $4.6 billion worth of military transport aircraft.
The Conservative defence critic, retired general Gordon O'Connor, says he's concerned the government is rushing the process unnecessarily and has made the requirements "so precise only one solution's possible."O’Connor and his old lobbyist buddies were able to kick up enough dirt that the government backed down, delaying the procurement until after the election.
"They're basically saying that these are needed tomorrow morning for
and that's not true." Afghanistan
“I don't think having a legitimate competition . . . would add much time to this process."
A few months later the Conservatives form a minority, and one year after scuttling the initial attempted purchase, in November of 2006 they announce, surprise surprise, they’re going to go with the Herc after all:
The Conservative government has quietly named Lockheed Martin's C-130J aircraft as the winner of a $4.9-billion bid to replace the military's aging Hercules transport planes.
aerospace giant was informed of the government's decision on Monday, although there has been no official government announcement about the selection of the C-130J for the project. U.S.
Despite the government secrecy, the choice of the C-130J as the military's new tactical transport aircraft doesn't come as a surprise to those in the aerospace industry. Although the Conservative government maintained that the competition was open to all bidders and fair, the project requirements automatically eliminated the European-built A400M aircraft, the main competition to the C-130J.
Hey, wait; isn’t that the same plane the Liberals wanted to buy one year earlier, you ask? And making sure the project requirements favoured the Herc; isn’t that what O’Connor accused the Liberals of doing, and didn’t he say that was bad? Yes to both questions.
And now, more than a year after the Conservatives selected the C-130J, and more than TWO years after they helped scuttle a Liberal attempt to buy the C-130J, they finally sign a contract to buy…the C-130J.
The air force's long-awaited purchase of the Super-Hercules cargo plane became a reality Wednesday as the Conservative government formally signed a contract with U.S. defence giant Lockheed Martin.So, in essence, we’ve come around full circle. If O’Connor and the Conservatives hadn’t of taken us on this two-year magical mystery tour, one wonders if the air force would be getting their planes ‘round about now, or, at least, some time before 2010? I wouldn’t be surprised.
The purchase of 17 C-130J planes is worth $1.4 billion, with delivery of the first aircraft in the winter of 2010.
It’s no wonder Peter McKay didn’t mention this little historical story… Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers