I went to look at the MOU, and straight away, on the first page, a GLARING and contradictory HOLE in Harper's argument emerged:
Note the countries that are included in this agreement. Here's the rub:
"Netherlands' coalition government has decided to put off a decision to buy the F-35 until its next cabinet in 2014, according to Dutch defence ministry spokesperson Sascha Louwhoff.
The decision arose from the fact that in December, the US ambassador to the country told Dutch Defence Minister Hans Hillen that his country's order of 85 F-35s would cost 1.4 billion euros more than originally thought."
The Australian defence community reacted strongly when Canada's PBO released its report that suggested Canada's F-35 purchases would be twice the government estimate, because the numbers would be similar for an ally like Australia. Andrew Davies from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute told reporters Australia should review its commitment.
While the Australian government is not wavering on its commitment to eventually buy 72 F-35s, it does note that the government expects by 2012 to have "firmer estimates of total project costs."
"We are accepting that there is no definitive known cost or development timeline of this thing as it develops," said Jamie Patten-Richens, a defence adviser at the Australian High Commission.
Norway intends to delay ordering its 48 planned F-35 Lightning II fighter jets until 2012 or later, senior officials said.
"We have not signed a purchase agreement, and Norway is unlikely to do so for several more years until the Joint Strike Fighter program's costs stabilize," said Espen Barth Eide, Norway's state secretary.
There is more, concerns in Britian, Italy, Israel. What the above highlights, these are all countries that are privy to this special deal, this MOU Harper was clinging to today. The question then becomes- why are these governments delaying, musing about cost overruns, uncertainty, when they have the same SWEETHEART deal that Harper referenced today? Why are other countries concerned, as Harper says "there's a memorandum of understanding... sheltered from research and development costs"?
In a last ditch effort Harper talked of a letter to counter cost overrun evidence. When pressed, Harper tried to plead transparency citing the MOU as PROOF that we are immune. A Conservative war room in damage control, making it up on the fly, and they've caught themselves. I didn't even finish the first page of the MOU, when the most obvious of contradictions was found. ALL the other countries with that SAME MOU doesn't seem to share Harper's confidence, in fact their interpretation doesn't even REMOTELY compare. No, all these other countries that are "sheltered from research and development costs" are scrambling, delaying, trying to come to grips with runaway costs. At the very least, Harper should call them and tell them all is well, you are IMMUNE! Tomorrow we will learn that Canada has another MOU, but we can't show you that one because of cabinet confidence or something. Today's answer just raises more questions...