Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Tory candidate lobbied Ottawa for U.S. fighter-jet manufacturer

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.

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.
F-35s cost more than $100M each: U.S. official
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.

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 Parliamentary Budget Office thinks the cost will be even higher, because of cost overruns:
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 Page questioned those figures, saying they were based on outdated information from the U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

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