Ottawa to shut down committee looking into F-35 procurement

The Conservative government will shut down a parliamentary committee discussing the findings of an Auditor General’s report that accused it of lack of transparency in the process of buying F-35 fighter jets for the military.

The decision to close the committee was made earlier this month, behind closed doors, but news of it came out Monday through the Hill Times, which is has confirmed the information today.

From the Hill Times:

Conservative MP Andrew Saxton (Vancouver North, B.C.) told the Commons Monday the inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee has completed its run, even though the panel has heard only seven hours of testimony and evidence from Department of National Defence and other government officials, with key elements contradicting what Auditor General Michael Ferguson has reported and stated publicly about the controversial acquisition.

Meanwhile, the Tories in Ottawa are preparing to make another aviation-related purchase. According to Postmedia News, the government is approving the use of $3.8 billion to buy search-and-rescue planes for the Royal Canadian Air Force:

Following cabinet approval late last year, the government has set a new schedule that will see a draft request for proposal issued in September, with final selection of the winning bidder or bidders expected in 2014, Postmedia has learned. Treasury Board has granted first-phase approval of a budget of $3.8-billion, with $1.9-billion of that going to so-called ‘in-service support’ or maintenance.

In contrast with the scandal-plagued F-35 jet fighter procurement process, (…) the government now intends to hold an open competition, modelled on last fall’s successful shipbuilding contract process.