Top echelons of bureaucracy lie in wait to ambush Tories
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper noted somewhat facetiously during the election campaign that the ingrained Liberal bureaucracy in Ottawa would keep his government in check.
Stephen, take my word for it, this is no joke.
Those deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers and other high-ranking bureaucrats will sabotage your government all down the line at every chance they get.
Decades of Liberal regimes, interrupted only occasionally by Conservative governments, have seen the politicization of the top echelons of the federal public service.
In the nations of our Commonwealth cousins of Britain, Australia and New Zealand, public servants truly are non-political, and serve assiduously whomever is elected to power.
This is definitely not the case in Canada, where the public service hierarchy actually mocks Conservatives and gives knowing nods to each other the Liberals will soon be back in power.
Just ask your newly acquired friend Brian Mulroney—and a good man at that—or the man who holds you in contempt, Joe Clark—and a naive man all the way.
And trust me, too, for in some 40 years of covering Canadian politics I’m pretty savvy in these matters.
Now, during the Jan. 23 campaign, it was revealed Prime Minister Paul Martin’s Liberals had ordered the Defence Department to assess and cost out the Conservative defence policies and budgetary plans.
This was simply outrageous—a government ordering public servants to provide an analysis to be used for purely partisan purposes to undermine Harper’s defence platform.
But there you have it—- a public service that daren’t say no to unconscionable Liberal demands even though the department in question this time has had no reason to be compliant with the Chretien/Martin duo since their regimes lashed the military budget by 25%.
Coincidentally, the first big test of the loyalty of the bureaucracy—or disloyalty—involves a huge $5 billion contract to replace the rusted-out Hercules transport aircraft fleet.
In the columns “Military wary,” (Nov. 29) and “Nosedive,” (Jan. 3), I pointed out my many military friends suspect the Liberals are rigging bids for the contract by cannily making sure only one aircraft, the Lockheed Martin C-130J can compete for it.
That’s even though the other main competitor, the European Aeronautical Defence and Space Company’s A400M is far superior.
While it costs just 15% more, it can fly twice as far and carry double the payload.
The U.S. is reluctant to buy any more
C-130Js because the Pentagon has judged it is “not operationally effective” as a replacement for the Hercules.
So far, almost 200 of the A400Ms have been ordered by countries such as Britain, France, Germany, Belgium,
the Netherlands, Turkey, South Africa and Malaysia.
The Ottawa lobbying firm pushing the C-130J is comprised of any number of top-level former bureaucrats from the Chretien/Martin administration.
A public relations firm massaging the deal is headed up by a former chief of staff to a former Liberal cabinet minister.
Just last week it was revealed the European aerospace company Augusta-Westland has filed a $1-billion claim in the Federal Court of Canada alleging political interference in the Liberal decision to replace the Sea King helicopters.
Augusta-Westland contends the Liberals cleverly designed this $5-billion program to buy 28 maritime helicopters in such a way their EH-101 couldn’t compete with the U.S.-based Sirkorsky’s helicopter.
You may recall when Chretien killed an earlier contract for EH-101s after becoming prime minister in 1993, taxpayers were left with $500 million in cancellation penalties.
It’s now possible cancellation by the Liberals could cost Canadians another $1 billion.
Ironically, that $1-billion bill—and huge legal costs on top, would fall on Harper’s desk.
The last thing anyone needs is another contract mess.
Whichever plane gets picked to replace the Hercules, should be the result of an open contest based on getting the best plane for the job on time and on budget.
There has to be fair play, which is all the A400M’s manufacturers are asking for.
Stephen, Scott Brison is no longer in charge of the patronage-driven public works department, and Bill Graham is no longer pulling the levers at defence.
So, let’s put out tenders that are above board for a new plane.
We need to supply our military with what it needs.
Not what Liberal insiders want.
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