Nice! It is surprising this has not been picked up on yet by the opposition or media. Harper is going to get roasted. So was he twisting his words (yet again) on the no-contract fact? While this might turn out to be what we buy it still smells like a shady used-car salesman transaction. Why is it so difficult to be forthright?
The existence of the MOU is well known by the press. It was discussed heavily in the Auditor general's report.
Its hardly shady at all... this thing has been published publicly for six years. Joint partnership programs are actually very common in every other Western country. Examples would include the Eurofighter,A400,Tornado (UK, Ger, Ita, spain), Standard Block IIA (Japan-US), MEADS (US-Germany), NH-90 (Fra, Ger, Ita, Netherlands, Portugal.) It is a way to offset the high costs of development for a new system by increasing the number of examples produced and dividing the costs among different partners.
The problem with these programs is that they often go over budget (its a R&D portion that has several members), there is less control over the project and its difficult to actually run a "competition" between your joint venture and other competitorsThe JSF program also mitigated some of the negative aspects of development by capping the potential financial exposure to development cost overruns. However in the Canadian case, there wasn't really a good time to run a competition after 2006. Its really artificial, because the government is already committed to buy the fighter due to the industrial contracts. However most contracts of this type do not see competitive processes at all, at least not after the beginning. I don't think the Brits ever had a competition for the Eurofighter for example. If there is a problem, you withdraw. But that requires
I think the problem was that the Government tried applying parts of a "normal" procurement, when the contract doesn't really translate well into it. I think they should have been more communication about the program. I think there is a pretty big issue with the centrally managed communication system established by the Prime Minister's Office, which has utterly failed in this case. Had they made more DND officers available to explain this program (as was the previous system) I think they would have avoided the worst aspects of the media coverage they now face.