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MacKay under fire over ballooning costs of F-35 program

Defence Minister Peter MacKay responds to questioning during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Dec. 7, 2012.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The opposition parties are demanding that Defence Minister Peter MacKay resign over the skyrocketing cost of the F-35 fighter jet program.

A government-commissioned report written by the accounting firm KPMG is expected to show the price tag for owning and operating 65 stealth fighters could stretch to $40-billion.

That's far in excess of the $16-billion that the Conservatives insisted the multi-role, radar-evading jets would cost.

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Liberal MP John McKay says the defence minister should quit for previously insisting that the F-35 was the only plane the Canadian air force should buy.

New Democrat MP Jack Harris also called on the government to immediately release the KPMG report.

The report has been in the hands of the government for a week.

Last spring, the auditor general of Canada pegged the F-35 program cost at $25-billion and blasted the Harper government for low-balling the purchase.

Government House Leader Peter Van Loan says the government will stick to its seven-point response to the auditor general's report, and will issue a report to the House of Commons before it rises for the Christmas break.

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