Now, generally, I believe that governments have a duty to keep certain SECRET information under lock and key … neither you nor I nor a “public interest researcher” has a right to know the details of, for example, the frequency hop set of an air search radar on our new Canadian Surface Combatant warships.
But, that sort of really SECRET stuff aside, we, citizens, do have a right to know how the government is spending our money and that, in my opinion, includes understanding “details about the industrial benefits and jobs supposedly to be created by the surface combatant project.” After all, it was our government, the Harper Conservative government to be clear, that selected, in that case, Irving Shipbuilding (Halifax) to be the supplier of new destroyer-frigate type warships, and they did so after what was described in a 2010 press release by then Public Works and Government Services Minister Riona Ambrose as developing a “Strategy [that] promotes the regional distribution of work and opportunities to shipyards across the country. Shipyards that are selected to build the combat and non-combat packages will have to subcontract vast amounts of work to the broader marine industry and suppliers of this industry. Subcontracting in any of the three streams encompassed by the Strategy will be of notable benefit small and medium enterprises … [and] … The Government of Canada is committed to getting the best value for Canadian taxpayers. Under the Strategy, shipbuilding projects that are similar in nature will be grouped together to reduce production costs. This type of strategic sourcing will create the conditions for the effective and efficient delivery and support of the federal fleet over the long term.” That’s all pretty good stuff and I’m pretty sure that most Liberal ministers are still toeing that same line today. They promised industrial benefits and jobs; we, taxpayers, have a right to know if they are delivering.
But, in an article in the National Post, defence correspondent David Pugliese tells us that “The Liberal government has brought in yet another media ban, this time affecting companies seeking work on a warship project that involves the largest single outlay of tax dollars in Canadian history … [in this case] … In a new directive, firms interested in maintenance work on the $60 billion Canadian Surface Combatant program have been told they can’t talk to journalists and instead must refer all inquiries to Public Services and Procurement Canada … [and] … At the same time, a public interest researcher who is seeking details about the industrial benefits and jobs supposedly to be created by the surface combatant project has been informed by government it will take at least three and a half years to get any such documents under the Access to Information law.“
Mr Pugliese says, and these are two very worrying points, that:
- “The media ban imposed by Procurement Canada on firms interested in maintenance work on that fleet is the fifth such order in the last year involving the purchase of military equipment or ships, according to documents compiled by Postmedia; and
- Industry representatives have sent the news organization the documents, warning about the growing secrecy at Procurement Canada. The records include a ban on firms talking to journalists about the Canadian Surface Combatants, the purchase of next generation fighter jets, a light icebreaker, a Defence department satellite, as well as a military pilot training contract. Industry executives point out the secrecy is not based on security concerns but on worries the news media will be able to use the information to keep close tabs on the problem-plagued military procurement system.“
The Trudeau regime seems obsessed with secrecy and wants to bend all factual information to suit its narrative that it is spending our money as we might wish … which is, of course exactly what the Trudeau campaign said about Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
Remember, please, that it is “industry executives,” the contractors, who actually want Canadians to know that they, their Canadian companies, are making products for our new ships, using Canadian materials and employing Canadian workers but it is the Liberal government which, they say, is imposing media bans that are “not based on security concerns but on worries the news media will be able to use the information to keep close tabs on the problem-plagued military procurement system.” I reiterate, there are many very real military SECRETS involved in designing and building a new warship and they must be kept under tight control … but, it seems, that’s not what this government is doing. It just wants to avoid being held accountable for the mess that is defence procurement in Canada.
I hope everyone who voted, in 2015, for “Real Change,” remembers, this October, that Justin Trudeau, who slandered Stephen Harper for being “secretive” and who said that …
… is now delivering the same old secrecy in the same old way.