|"Anybody know where I can find a job?"|
Take Lt. General Charles Bouchard for instance, just slightly over a year (the mandatory "cooling off period) after his retirement from the RCAF, Bouchard has now been chosen as the new boss in charge of Lockheed Martin's operations in Canada. Quite the prestigious, and no doubt well compensated position.
Does the name sound familiar? It should, Bouchard led NATO forces during the bombing runs over Libya a few years back. While the actual benefits of that action are debatable, the operation itself went off rather smoothly.
But perhaps you heard the name somewhere else, maybe more recently?
Back in December 2012, when the damning KPMG report prompted the Canadian federal government to hit the "reset" button on the F-35 purchase, retired RCAF Lt. General Charles Bouchard was one of the five people named to study the F-35 and its alternatives. Bouchard then bowed out, claiming he was "too busy". Now, 9 months later, it seems we know what Bouchard was likely busy doing. Obviously, being courted for a high-level job at Lockheed Martin would result in a gigantic conflict of interest if he were to stay on the panel.
Back in the RCAF, was Lt. Gen. Bouchard as outspoken and positive about the F-35 as other higher-ups? Or was he more on the fence? Either way, its pretty easy to figure out where he stands on Canada's next fighter selection now.
Some have accused Lockheed Martin of hiring Bouchard strictly to "seal the deal" for Canada's F-35 purchase. While one cannot simply state this as 100% truth, the facts are pretty clear cut on this one:
- Bouchard was a well respected senior officer with lots of influence within the ranks as well as the federal government.
- Bouchard was briefly in the position to directly determine what Canada's next fighter would be.
- Bouchard bowed out of that position.
- Shortly after, Bouchard accepts a high-paying and prestigious job at Lockheed Martin just slightly over the one year mandatory "cooling off" period.
Is there a conflict of interest here? Maybe not. But it sure seems precariously close.