Canadian Report | Plane prices put defense minister at risk

A case of sticker shock could ground the Canadian government’s controversial plan to spend $25 billion to buy and maintain sophisticated F-35 fighter jets.

Opposition politicians are demanding that Defense Minister Peter MacKay resign over skyrocketing costs for the jets and for not letting taxpayers know the real price tag to buy and operate the planes.

The Royal Canadian Air Force wants to replace its CF-18 Hornets with 65 of the single-engine, radar-evading Lockheed Martin fighter jets.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson, in a scathing report last April, concluded the jets could cost $10 billion more than the defense department has publicly acknowledged due to cost overruns and production delays.

The government in the coming week is expected to release the results of a study into the costs, with news reports suggesting the price tag will soar to $40 billion.

As well, a study is underway to compare the F-35 with other fighter jets including Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet and the EADS Eurofighter.

The Mercer Quality of Living Survey has again named Vancouver the top Canadian city and fifth overall in the world.

The latest listing by the global consulting company keeps Vienna, Zurich, Auckland and Munich as the top four places for the best quality of life.

Canada’s capital, Ottawa, ranked 14th, with Toronto 15th, Montreal, 23rd and Calgary at 32nd.

“Canadian cities tend to do well because it measures things like political, social environments, economic environment, medical and health,” said Luc Lalonde of Mercer Canada.

Honolulu at 28 is the top U.S. city, followed by San Francisco (29), Boston (35), Chicago (42), Washington, D.C., (43) and New York (44). Baghdad was last at 221.

News in brief

Facts and figures

Good employment news on Friday lifted Canada’s dollar to $1.0103 in U.S. funds while the U.S. dollar returned 98.97 cents Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada has again left its key interest rate at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.

Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,168 points and the TSX Venture index 1,182 points.

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