Canada: "Shadows of the Sponsorship program hang over the gun registry"

The Canadian Taxpayer Federation is now see shades of the Adscam Sponsorship scandal in the gun registry program:

Shadows of the Sponsorship program hang over the gun registry. Some might scoff at this declaration or the need to find answers. But until it is explained how a program budgeted to cost $117-million somehow exceeded $1-billion, the burden of proof rests on the shoulders of officials responsible for ensuring the proper stewardship of tax dollars.

Taxpayers are seeking answers on the awarding of contracts to consultants. Paragraph 4.82 of the auditor’s most recent report concludes “the [Canada Firearms] Centre misused contracting tools to retain the services of information technology contractors.” And paragraph 4.83 reveals the government system used to award contracts was rigged and “made directed contracts appear to have been awarded competitively.” In addition “the end result [of contracting tools] was a non-competitive process and did not meet the objectives of the Treasury Board Contracting Policy.”

The audit also found “on average the cost to the Centre for each consultant increased by about 25% under this supply arrangement.” Costs skyrocketed as excessive – and needless – commissions were paid to well-connected consultants. This has both the look and feel of another Sponsorship-style kickback scheme.

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has decided to investigate who is responsible for hiding from Parliament the rising costs of the registry. Yet the committee chair has already conceded it will not be possible to remove “politics” from the examination. A wider investigation is necessary. Given what Ms. Fraser has told Canadians about the operations of the federal firearms registry, there is ample reason for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to establish an independent inquiry into this program. He should do so without delay.


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