Ottawa, 11 May:
Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay is being accused of misleading the country over the true . . .[restrict]cost of Canada’s contribution to the NATO mission in Libya last year.
Last October, MacKay said the campaign had cost C$50 million, C$10 million less than original Defence Department predictions.
However, new Defence Department figures contained in a report tabled in the Canadian Parliament this week put the full cost of the mission at more than C$347.5 million, seven times the amount claimed by MacKay.
It is being claimed in the Canadian press that even taking into account the Defence Department’s controversial practice of only reporting “incremental costs” — costs deemed to be above and beyond normal operating expenses — the mission still came in at C$100 million.
This is not the first time that MacKay has been accused of misleading the country over defence figures. Allegations have also been made that Canada’s Conservative government intentionally underplayed the true cost of the F-35 joint strike fighter, although procurement costs are notoriously hard to predict.
Steve Staples, president of the Rideau Institute, the Ottawa-based think tank that discovered the Defence Department figures, alleged that the discrepancy is yet another example of MacKay and the military trying to hide the truth.
“Just like the F-35, Minister MacKay has been caught lowballing costs and minimising overspending in his department, to the point now where I think a lot of Canadians are questioning his credibility and whether we can continue to believe his funny numbers,” Staples said.
Calls are being made for MacKay to explain his initial claim and why these latest Defence Department figures were not made public until now. [/restrict]