Feds brace for PBO broadside on new navy ships

Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page

Credits: REUTERS


OTTAWA - The federal government says its multibillion-dollar shipbuilding program is on track and on target to provide new vessels for both the Canadian Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Navy.

Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) Kevin Page - often a thorn in the side of the government when it comes to military procurement issues - may have a different view when he publishes a report on the shipbuilding program early Thursday morning.

Ottawa insiders say Page will drop "a real stinker" that will leave the government open to new attacks on its military procurement program.

In what was widely seen as a pre-emptive strike to any potential PBO broadsides, senior officials from the federal public works department, the Navy and the Coast Guard held a technical briefing for reporters on the costs and progress of its ambitious plan to spend more than $33 billion over 30 years on new combat and non-combat vessels.

The officials, speaking on condition they would not be identified, said the government has been hitting its benchmarks in a long and complex process.

"We are 500 days into an 11,000-day program," said an official. "There's lots of work still to be done."

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