Defence officials dismiss supply ship warning
OTTAWA - A leaked memo shows officials at National Defence scrambled behind the scenes last month to reassure the Harper government that they knew how much it would cost to replace the navy's supply ships.
In a report released last month, parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page said not enough money had been set aside for the $2.6-billion joint support ship program.
Page suggested that it would cost more than $4.1 billion to replace the existing vessels — HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Preserver.
To stay within the government's existing budget envelope, Page said the capabilities of the new ships would have to be scaled back even further.
But a briefing note, prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose on the same day as Page's report, suggests the budget officer's analysis is more theoretical than practical.
It says National Defence's numbers are further along than the budget officer's projections, and that the navy is relying on "actual cost estimates" for both designs that are under consideration.