Liberal Leader Bob Rae has declared that Prime Minister Stephen Harper should resign because Canadians and Parliament were misled on the cost of new fighter jets.
In a speech to the Liberal caucus this morning, Rae also alleged that Harper "is not fit to be the prime minister of Canada".
The Liberal leader characterized the "spillage on the F-35" as $10 billion.
"This is the worst example of economic incompetence and fiscal dishonesty that this country has seen in a generation," Rae said.
Yesterday, Auditor General Michael Ferguson reported that the government initially estimated it would cost $25 billion to buy and operate 65 F-35 planes over 20 years. But the Department of National Defence later claimed this would come in at under $15 billion.
During the 2011 election campaign, Harper repeatedly claimed that the program would cost $16 billion, even though the parliamentary budget officer, Kevin Page, had pegged the price at $29 billion.
Rae claimed that if anyone in the private sector misled the public in this manner with "a misleading prospectus, false figures, and false documents", the CEO and entire board of directors would be fired.
"The police would be called in, and the civil litigation would be huge," the Liberal leader declared.
Rae stated that Harper is trying to claim that he was "misled".
"This is a truly pathetic defence," he said. "The control master of all time was misled? All he needed to do was press 'Google F-35' and do what any prime minister should do: ask why his numbers were so different than anybody else's."
The Liberal leader pointed out that several western governments were grappling with the rising costs of the F-35 fighter jets, but that Harper refused to come clean with Canadians when he had countless opportunities to do so.
"He stonewalled," Rae noted. "He insulted. He pretended that he was smarter than everyone in the room."
Rae pointed out that when former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff declared that the government's cost estimates were wrong, he came under attack.
"When the parliamentary budget officer came out with his prescient report, he too was denigrated and attacked," Rae added.
He also claimed that "any kid would call it a lie" when Harper said there was a contract to buy the F-35 jets during the election campaign. "He misled Canadians in order to receive their confidence."
The Liberal leader suggested that some people will be "thrown under the bus" because of this scandal—possibly a public servant, a military person, perhaps a general, and maybe even a couple of cabinet ministers.
But he said this should not absolve the prime minister of responsibility.
"He's going to wear it, and he's going to pay the price for it," Rae stated. "A mistake of this kind—a massive fraud of this kind—can't be ascribed to anyone but the prime minister of Canada. These policies are his and his alone. This style of government. The personal attacks."
Near the end of his speech, Rae claimed that Harper will try to intimidate and bully his critics, and that Liberals will have to persevere through inevitable personal attacks from Conservatives.
"When they are caught out, they say, 'It's not about us—it's about you,' " Rae said. "I'm sorry Mr. Harper—this is about you. It's all about you. It's about your refusing to tell the truth to the Canadian people."
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.