Thursday, January 04, 2007

Waste? Mismanagement? Corruption?

Stephen Harper repeated those words over and over during the last election. By any honest account there was some of all three of those things going on in the sponsorship program.

Does that mean that suspect no-bid contracts are done away with now that Canada's New Government is at the helm? Uhhh, no, they just moved to another department. Just yesterday there was a report in the Globe and Mail about yet another de-facto no bid contract worth billions of dollars. This time it's for a fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft. We've already bought c-17 transports and Chinook helicopters in the same fashion though.

Now, what if the C-27J Spartan, the aircraft being considered, is the only one that can meet the requirements of the military? While that's what the Spartan's proponents are arguing, there is also some indication in a follow-up article today that the military requirements were written to suit the Spartan, quote:
'In the first three draft versions of the requirements for the search-and-rescue aircraft, the documents stated: “Search speeds . . . typically vary between 110 to 130 knots for visual searches.”

However, the last version of the draft requirements, dated last July, has been changed to state that search speeds “typically vary between 110 to 140 knots” — a range that allegedly better suits the capabilities of the Spartan C-27J.'

Oops, that sounds a bit fishy. Of course we shouldn't be doubly suspicious just because the Minister of Defense is a former defense industry lobbyist, should we? I know that the military wants to get procurement done faster, but writing requirements around a single aircraft is not the way to do it. This looks too suspect to me and may be a way that Harper ends up being far more wasteful with the public purse than anything done to sponsor fishing tournaments (or whatever) in Quebec.

(Pictured: The C-27J Spartan, supposedly the only choice)