A confidential report says Christmas break can't come soon enough for the government, as it braces for up to three reports about the costs for the F-35 fighter jet before the House rises.
Expected as early as today is the accounting firm KPMG's independent audit, which is reported to tally the total costs of the F-35 procurement project to anywhere from $40 billion to $46 billion, a figure almost three times the cost the government touted while shooting down anyone who disagreed, including its own parliamentary budget officer. Kevin Page estimated the cost was closer to $30 billion.
Although the KPMG report uses a longer life-cycle estimate for the jets (36 years) than the government did (20 years), the significantly higher cost will likely bring on a firestorm of outrage from opposition benches. That is, if it's possible to ratchet up any further the outrage that emanated from the NDP and the Liberals Tuesday, as opposition members flung back at the government seemingly every claim it ever made about the F-35s.
To the government, it might have seemed like being confronted with their own ghosts of Christmas past, as the opposition chided them for underestimating the cost, for warning that if the F-35 project was cancelled taxpayers would be out a billion dollars, and for speculating that without the F-35s lives could possibly be lost.
The F-35 file is so contentious that it's no longer handled by Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who had become a lightning rod for controversy over the fighter jets. After a scathing report from the auditor general in April, the file was transferred to Minister of Public Works Rona Ambrose.