Chrtien defends spending on jets

Chrtien dismisses reports the auditor general has found his government recklessly spent millions of dollars.

Prime Minister Jean Chrtien has dismissed reports that his government recklessly misspent millions of taxpayers dollars.

According to Auditor General Sheila Fraser's report, the Chrtien government misspent $100 million on Bombardier jets, spent money on advertising firms with Liberal connections and misused money for partisan polling.

Some of the findings of Fraser's next report, which isn't due until late next month, were leaked to The Globe and Mail on the weekend.

Meeting with reporters at the APEC summit in Bangkok, Chrtien said he doesn't comment on leaks but defended the purchase of the jets.

"We wanted to have Canadian planes. I don't think the Americans travel in French planes," he said. "I wanted to have Canadian planes for the ministers to show off a Canadian product. So I don't see the problem."

But the contract wasn't publicly tendered as required by the government's own regulations.

The purchase was also pushed through just before the end of the 2002 fiscal year over the objections of government bureaucrats.

Opposition MPs criticized the government for trying to cover up the purchase.

They argued there was nothing wrong with the government's existing fleet of Challengers and the money should have been spent to replace the military's aging and accident-prone fleet of Sea King helicopters.

Meanwhile, Chrtien told reporters that Russia intends to ratify the Kyoto accord on global warming.

He said he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin who told him some elements of the agreement are being negotiated, but Russia does intend to implement the accord.

Last month Putin appeared to be backing away from Kyoto.