04/03/2012 03:40 EDT | Updated 06/03/2012 05:12 EDT

Some quotes about the controversial F-35 stealth fighter jet purchase

OTTAWA - Some key quotes on Canada's proposed purchase of F-35 stealth fighter jets, which came under scrutiny Tuesday by the auditor general:

July 16, 2010

"The government of Canada is delivering on that promise, committing today to acquire 65 joint strike fighter F-35 aircraft. ... We expect to begin taking delivery of the first aircraft in 2016. Together with weapons, infrastructure, training simulators and other items, our investment is valued at approximately $9 billion." — Defence Minister Peter MacKay announces the F-35 decision.

Dec. 8, 2010

"If we don't buy this aircraft now ... it's like hitting restart. We would have to go back, lose our preferred place in the production line. We have made our decision. We are firm in pursuing this course of action and purchasing this aircraft, which will accrue maximum benefits to the air force, the aerospace industry and to Canada.'' — MacKay.

March 10, 2011

"Unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary, it is difficult to see prices reducing to their original level." — Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page in a report that pegged the F-35 costs as billions higher than government estimates.

"I don't think they've been transparent. I think there's a lot more that DND could provide.'' Page, in tabling his report.

March 30, 2011

"All the information suggests we're well within the cost estimates for these jets, which we need. We've been involved in a 15-year procurement process and all of the information we have from our aerospace industry, from our National Defence officials is that these costs are well within our estimates and well on track." — Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

April 8, 2011

"You have to understand that in terms of the F-35 costs, we've been very detailed with those to the Canadian public. A lot of the developmental costs you're reading in the United States, the contract we've signed shelters us from any increase in those kinds of costs. We're very confident of our cost estimates and we have built in some latitude, some contingency in any case. So we are very confident we are within those measures.'' — Harper, during the last election campaign.

April 14, 2011

"I do find it disappointing. I find it sad that some in Parliament are backtracking on the F-35 and some are talking openly about cancelling the contract, should they get the chance. Cancelling a contract that way would be completely irresponsible. The opposition parties must stop playing partisan games with these crucial contracts.'' — Harper.

Nov. 8, 2011

"We will purchase the F-35. We're on record. We're part of the crusade. We're not backing down.'' — Associate defence minister Julian Fantino, while visiting a Fort Worth, Texas., plant that builds the jets.

Feb. 24, 2012

"We have been clear that we will operate within that budget. And we will give our air men and women the best available aircraft, which I believe is the fifth-generation, F-35 Lightning II.'' — MacKay, in a speech to a defence group.

March 13, 2012

"We have not, as yet, discounted the possibility, of course, of backing out of any of the program.'' — Fantino, speaking to the House of Commons defence committee.

"I'm being realistic. Until such time as the purchase is signed and ready to go, I think the only appropriate answer for me is to be forthright. We are committed to the program. We intend to do the best we can for our men and women and Canadian taxpayers with respect to replacing the CF-18.'' — Fantino, speaking outside the defence committee.

March 16, 2012

"We haven't signed a contract and that's just a fact. As I've said, the Canadian government — not just our government, the previous government — has been participating it the development of replacement aircraft for the CF-18 for 15 years. ... At some point we'll have to make a final decision, but obviously we have not signed a contract, so that we can retain our flexibility in terms of ensuring the best deal for taxpayers.'' — Harper.

April 3, 2012

"National Defence did not develop full life-cycle costs for the F-35. The budget for acquiring the jet and operating it over 20 years is capped at $25 billion and it does not include significant cost elements, such as replacement jets. The department did not provide parliamentarians with complete cost information or fully inform decision-makers about risks created by problems encountered in the program." — From the report of auditor general Michael Ferguson.

"The government knew the F-35s were going to cost more than anticipated — but they intentionally hid it from Parliament and the public. This was an outrageous attempt to try and pull the wool over the eyes of Canadians." — New Democrat MP Christine Moore.

"The Harper Conservatives have completely misled the Canadian public." — Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae.