Senate QP: What about that billion dollar penalty?

With the Commons now risen for the season, the Senate is still hard at work, and they had plenty of questions for the government – especially in the wake of yesterday’s F-35 report being tabled. Liberal senators took it upon themselves to put questions on that report to the government, by way of Senator Marjorie LeBreton, the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Senator Cowan led off, quoting Andrew Coyne’s withering analysis on the F-35s, and he asked what it will take for the government to admit they misled Parliament. Senator LeBreton replied that the “ramblings” of Andrew Coyne mean little to her, and that the government’s assurances on the file have born out — which the Liberal benches found hilarious. She then quoted the false 42-year figure, saying they were the same as the twenty-year figure, and was completely attributable to the time frame. When Cowan pressed about Ambrose’s statements versus those of MacKay, LeBreton got a chance to recite the “no money has been spent” and “Seven-Point Plan™” talking points. Cowan wasn’t about to let go, and pressed on about a statement that MacKay made about how cancelling the F-35s would cost us a billion dollars, and what that actually entailed. LeBreton kept talking around it, despite several back-and-forths. Senator Wallin then stood up to ask a friendly supplemental question to take the heat off, and got LeBreton to quote some KPMG figures.

Senator Moore was up next, and brought up statements made by Harper about the F-35s during the election, bringing up the government having been found in contempt of Parliament. LeBreton insisted that there was no deception, and that the government’s figures were born out in the KPMG report, and that the costs were just extended from 20 years to 42 years (never mind that the 42 year figure is a fabrication and it’s really 30).

Senator Dawson was up next, and after quipping that Harper’s last hundred days were worse than Pauline Marois’ first hundred, he inquired about the veracity of the “reset button” on the procurement process. LeBreton didn’t respond, but talked about jobs, and the economy, and stuff. Dawson then wondered what the billion dollar penalty for cancelling the contract would be. LeBreton said the only billion dollars she wanted to talk about was the billion dollars a year it would cost to maintain the airforce.

Senator Cordy was then up, and after complementing LeBreton on her ability to read the same talking points as her Commons colleagues, she too returned to that mysterious billion dollar cancellation penalty. LeBreton responded with a swipe about Cordy being the “new spear-carrier” for the Liberal Party. Cordy was back up, demanding the costs for the famous F-35 photo-op and how much it cost to run the sole-source procurement contract if “no money has been spent.” LeBreton was back up and said that no money was spent on procurement. When Senator Dallaire got up to make a supplemental, the time for QP expired.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Senator Dennis Dawson for a textured grey jacket with a pale turquoise shirt and bow tie (and we all know that bow ties are cool), and to Senator Claudette Tardif, for a curious belted grey sweater with a square neckline a black turtleneck beneath, a string of pearls, and a black skirt — and yet it worked. Style citations go out to Senator Nicole Eaton for a leopard print belted dress, and to Senator Larry Smith for a gold jacket with a white shirt, brown tie and black trousers – but maybe he had a property to show later.