Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Auditor General's largely positive report negatively spun by media

Auditor General Michael Ferguson, the unilingual monster whom the NDP and Bloc Quebecois so vehemently opposed, released his Spring 2012 report today.  This report is and will undoubtedly continue to get explosive media attention, as it deals with the F35 JSF program.

But from media headlines, you'd think the AG was giving a blanket doomsday judgment against Prime Minister Harper and his cabinet.

The Toronto Star said the report "slammed" the Harper government.

The Montreal Gazette said this was a "scathing report."

The Vancouver Sun says "heads must roll" because of this report.

Get the picture? If that isn't the most misleading and biased interpretation of the report as a whole I don't know what is.

In fact, the F35 is only one of the six chapters of the whole Spring Report.

So let's compare these inflammatory overstated media proclamations with reality.

On commercial imports coming through the border, Ferguson says "in most cases, the consumer goods in our audit that pose a risk to health and safety are adequately controlled at the border by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the federal organizations responsible for them."

On interest-bearing debt management, The AG says "Department of Finance Canada has a sound decision-making system in place to support and develop effective market debt strategies. It has a risk management framework that allows it to respond to emerging risks and changes in funding requirements."

On civil aviation oversight, Ferguson says "Transport Canada has made real progress in its new approach to safety oversight. It has revised its surveillance methodology to be consistent with this approach, and its rigorous regulatory framework for civil aviation safety is consistent with international standards."

On Canada Revenue Agency operations, Ferguson says they need to do more to catch cheaters who don't register properly for their GST/HST credits.

On reviewing some federal Crown corporations, he says there were "no significant deficiencies in our 2011 special examinations of the Canadian Dairy Commission, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board."

Also of interest, Ferguson notes that 82 percent of $6.7 billion in appropriations (about $5.49 billion) in the 2010-2011 fiscal year went to five Canadian Crown Corporations: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, and VIA Rail Canada Inc.

Will you find any of these positive quotes in the media?  Of course not!  Most media outlets are focused on obstructing and colouring the realities under the Conservative government with their artificial rhetoric.  Are there issues with the F35 procurement?  Absolutely.  When you're purchasing multiple aircraft which cost several billion dollars, while coordinating internationally with other countries doing the same, issues are bound to arise.  But if you read the actual report, you'll find the AG is actually quite happy with the Conservative government, while of course making recommendations in various departments.