Tory candidate lobbied Ottawa for U.S. fighter-jet manufacturer
One of the Conservative candidates in the federal election was until last December one of the lobbyists for the maker of the controversial F-35 jet the Harper government picked to be Canada’s next generation of fighter planes, records show.F-35s cost more than $100M each: U.S. official
As senior partner at CFN Consultants, an Ottawa firm specializing in defence issues, Raymond Sturgeon lobbied the government on behalf of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, the U.S. manufacturer of the F-35 Lightning II, the jet whose multi-billion sole-sourced price tag has been heavily criticized.
A month before winning the nomination as Tory candidate for the Ontario riding of Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing in January, Mr. Sturgeon stopped representing Lockheed Martin and a dozen other high-tech, aerospace and weapons firms, according to records with the Federal Registry of Lobbyists.
New fighter jets Canada plans to buy will be more than $100 million each — at least $25 million more per plane than government estimates — according to a top U.S. budget watchdog.The Parliamentary Budget Office thinks the cost will be even higher, because of cost overruns:
Conservative government officials have said 65 new joint strike fighters being built to replace Canada's F-18 jets will cost about $75 million each....
... [Mike] Sullivan [of the US GAO] said the estimated cost of the F-35A model that Canada is buying is "in the low 100 millions."
"Probably somewhere between $110-115 million," he said.
The F-35 program in the U.S. has seen huge cost overruns, which Mr. Page says will drive up the price tag from an estimated $75-million (U.S.) to $148-million for each plane.
The department dismisses the figure, but Mr. Page pointed out today the Pentagon’s latest estimate is $151-million – and that Washington does not sell aircraft to allies at a price less than what it pays.
The jet-fighter deal is expected to be a big issue in the expected spring election because the Liberals have promised to cancel it. They say the big-ticket purchase is ill-timed when the country is facing a $40.5-billion deficit.
The Harper government has said the purchase of 65 fighters and 20 years of maintenance support would run taxpayers between $14-billion and $16-billion. Mr. Page questioned those figures, saying they were based on outdated information from the U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin.