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Lockheed Martin lobbied cabinet, MPs, departments, on defence, procurement

Published: Monday, 05/14/2012 7:13 pm EDT
Last Updated: Tuesday, 05/15/2012 9:42 am EDT

Lockheed Martin has hired six Canadian consultants to lobby cabinet ministers and departmental officials on defence or procurement issues since 2008, when the Conservative government announced its participation in the U.S. Defense Department's Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.

According to the federal registry of lobbyists, consultants representing Lockheed Martin divisions Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Lockheed Martin Overseas Corp., and Lockheed Martin Canada have reported 21 communications about defence or procurement issues since May 2008, when Canada announced its participation in the program, with officials from the Department of Public Works, the Defence Department, staff for the defence and industry ministers, Prime Minister's Office staff, cabinet ministers, and opposition MPs.

Since 2008, independent consultant Jean-Jacques Blais; CFN consultants Patrick O’Donnell, Pierre Lagueux, and Gavin Scott; Prospectus Associates consultant Robert Evershed; and Capital Hill Group consultant David Angus have reported communications with MPs or government officials on behalf of Lockheed Martin to discuss defence or procurement.

“You can’t fault them for not being persuasive. They’re highly effective in what they do,” Liberal defence critic John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood, Ont.) said in an interview about meetings he had with Lockheed Martin officials.

He said he met with company officials to discuss the F-35s informally at the Conference of Defence Associations' annual Vimy Awards last November at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. He also met with them at his Ottawa office on Feb. 10, 2012, where the company pitched the JSF program.

“Their pitch was that there was going to be some imminent announcements of other countries signing up and committing to purchases, that a lot of the stuff that we were reading was clearly not true, that they were on schedule for their delivery dates, etcetera,” McKay said. 

Lagueux's expired registration, which said he would “assist in marketing strategy for the sale of aircraft and aircraft components to the Department of National Defence,” was active from May 2009 to May 2010.

O'Donnell's registration was active from August 2008 to May 2009 and similarly said he would “assist in the marketing strategy for the sale of aircraft to the Department of National Defence.”

Angus registered to lobby for Lockheed Martin from June to September 2008 to “assist [the] company in monitoring for and obtaining procurement opportunities,” according to the registry. Angus also reported a communication on behalf of the company in August 2008 with Sebastien Bonneau, a special assistant in the Prime Minister’s Office, related to “government procurement.”

Evershed, representing Lockheed Martin, communicated with then-industry minister Tony Clement and Defence Minister Peter MacKay on Oct. 26, 2011, according to the registry. Evershed has an active registration with Lockheed Martin to lobby the government generally on defence, procurement, and other science, technology and industry issues. 

Blais has had an active registration since March 19, 2012, to lobby the government for Lockheed Martin on the “procurement of aircraft.” Scott, of CFN Consultants, is also registered for Lockheed Martin under the category of "Government Contract Pursued." His registration description says he is lobbying on "Government procurement and industrial regional benefits support for aerospace products."

Lockheed Martin spokesman Chris Williams said in an emailed statement that the company complies with all reporting requirements related to lobbying, adding, “We do not comment on specific lobbying issues or activities.”

The United States-led JSF program, launched in the late 1990s, also involves Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Participating countries will purchase a total of about 3,100 aircraft and maintenance and repair services from Lockheed Martin, an aerospace and defence company based in Maryland. The U.S. will purchase 2,443 of the planes.

The Conservative government announced in May 2008 it intended to buy 65 F-35s under the program for $9 billion without launching a competitive bidding process.

An Ottawa consultant with knowledge of the file told The Lobby Monitor on a background basis that critics of the program tend to suggest it is a normal commercial buy of equipment, such as when Canada bought The Boeing Company's C-17s or Lockheed Martin's C-130Js.

In the JSF program, the consultant said, Canada would buy the planes directly from the U.S., which has committed to the deal with or without Canada's participation. If Canada backs out of the deal, the cost of the planes could be affected for the other governments involved.

Reuters reported in April that the United States' purchase of 2,443 jets under the program will be $1.51 trillion US over more than 50 years. That price tag includes inflation and is a higher cost estimate than the $1.38 trillion US the government estimated a year earlier, Reuters reported, citing a Pentagon document.

Canadian Auditor General Michael Ferguson reported in April that Defence Department officials did not show due diligence in selecting the F-35 from other options to replace Canada’s CF-18 jets and did not disclose the true cost of the planes to Parliament.

Ferguson said the budget for the planes is $9 billion for their acquisition and $16 billion for operations and maintenance over a U.S. government estimated lifespan of 36 years. The report said there is “a risk that these budgets may not be sufficient.”

Following the release of the report, the Conservative government created a new, separate secretariat on the F-35s under the Department of Public Works and Government Services.

Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino reiterated in the House of Commons last week that “no decision has been taken” on the F-35s. “We have not determined that the F-35 will be the replacement for our aging CF-18s,” he said.

The aerospace industry could benefit from spinoff contracts resulting from the F-35 deal.

The Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC), representing Canada’s aerospace manufacturing and services sector, has reported several communications with the government about defence issues, having discussed them with Fantino and his staff on March 5, according to the registry. It also reported communicating with Fantino's staff about defence issues on Feb. 21.

The AIAC will present recommendations for a government-initiated review of Canada's aerospace sector, headed by former Conservative cabinet minister David Emerson, who will report to the government with recommendations by the end of the year.

The AIAC will make recommendations “on how to leverage the government’s procurement process to enhance the aerospace industry’s long term competitiveness and value for tax payers,” the association said in a release in April.

The release said the association is “eager to offer our collaboration in ensuring that current and future industrial benefits on the platform and on the sustainment of the [F-35] aircraft, including testing and training, are optimized,” the release said.

The AIAC did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.

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