Another day, another scandal

hpinvent.jpgThere are reports today (here, here and here) that another scandal has come out for Paul Martin’s Liberal Party. It appears that Hewlett Packard has overcharged the Department of National Defence $160 million for hardware services not provided. CTV reports that “HP denied any wrongdoing, saying that the problems were located within DND. A civilian employee of the department was fired last year over the controversy.”

Defence Minister David Pratt asserts that Canadians will get every tax dollar back from HP.

I don’t know of any connections between the executives at HP and the Liberal Party so I assume that this is merely incompetence of the Ministry of Finance, instead of corruption by government officials.

Fellow Conservative Jay Hill is correct to say that the military can not afford to waste such money and that Prime Minister Paul Martin should have known about the problems when he was finance minister.

“The prime minister keeps talking about transparency so instead of waiting for the scandal of the day to be made public, will he come clean today and tell us: How many other departments were swindled while he was the finance minister? … As finance minister, the Prime Minister was on duty when at least $160-million dollars went missing from the Department of National Defence in phony invoicing by Hewlett-Packard or its subcontractors … A money manager who doesn’t notice that amount of cash disappearing gets fired.” — Jay Hill, Conservative MP

Deborah Gray also weighed in on this latest scandal:

“Yet it is only when they learn that they get caught, that the media is about to expose these things, that they even bother to acknowledge this latest theft … We have no idea whether this DND computer scandal is the end or if it’s just the beginning. I think we have uncovered only the tip of the iceberg.” — Deborah Gray, Conservative MP

Here’s an interesting excerpt from a Globe and Mail article (August 20th, 2002)

Last month, U.S. President George W. Bush sought to restore confidence in Wall Street and in his country’s corporate culture by introducing tough new measures designed to clean up Corporate America and punish white-collar offenders. To date, no such legislation has been passed in Canada.

After the speech, Mr. Chr├ętien told reporters that the federal ministers of justice and finance are looking into the issue of white-collar crime.

“As I said in my speech, there is no indication of a serious problem,” Mr. Chr├ętien said. However, he added that provincial and federal governments are “working on that because you never know … it’s not done publicly when they do that kind of crime.”

Thomas d’Aquino (president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives) said the council, which represents the CEOs of more than 100 of Canada’s largest corporations, is “urging government not to overreact.”

Paul Tsaparis, president of HP Canada, one of the country’s largest technology companies, issued a similar warning, saying: “You cannot legislate trust.”

I believe that it is essential for the Liberal government to immediately perform forensic audits of each department to figure out how many of our tax dollars have inappropriately gone to line the pockets of their friends and of other CEOs. There should be more transparency in government and contracts non-essential to national security should be made available for public review. Was the finance minister (Paul Martin) paying any attention to the books?