Friday, July 16, 2010

Ignatieff criticizes fighter jet deal initiated by Chrétien

The Canadian government has finally announced it plans to spend $9 billion on the purchase of 65 new fighter jets made by Lockheed Martin, the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. A related maintenance contract will likely bring the full cost to about $18 billion. The new stealth, multi-role fighter jets—which are expected to be the next-generation warplane for all NATO member air forces for the next several decades—will replace a fleet of aging, but recently upgraded, CF-18s.

“We have to have fighter jets. Canada is a massive country, and when you think purely about response times, there is nothing else that can get across the country as fast as a fighter jet.

“Also, when you are dealing with the Arctic, there is very little that has the kind of survivability of a fighter jet in the air under those kinds of harsh conditions.

“Everybody else is updating their fighter jets, and there simply hasn’t been a technology developed that can replace it at this point.”

– Mercedes Stephenson
Military Analyst

It is curious that our intrepid leader of the official opposition, Michael Ignatieff, is criticizing the choice of this airplane when it was a previous Liberal government headed by his mentor, Jean Chrétien, that originally signed the deal for the F-35 fighters to replace the CF-18s. Under then prime minister Chrétien, the Liberal government signed a memorandum of understanding with Lockheed Martin to develop the Joint Strike Fighter. And in February 2002, former defence minister Art Eggleton signed a deal in Washington with former U.S. defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld that ensured Canada would be a partner in the joint strike force.

While it may be worth having a debate over the dangers of sole-source military contracts, it’s a bit rich to hear Liberal critics attack the Conservative government for completing a procurement process they themselves started over a decade ago. And, it’s worth recalling that the last time a Liberal government reneged on a major military contract it cost us about a billion dollars to cancel that agreement. Our navy has still to recover from that disastrous decision by Jean Chrétien—motivated by crass politics.

But, of course, Ignatieff wouldn’t know any of this as he lived abroad in those days.

Canada has been a partner in the Joint Strike Fighter process since 1997—long before the Lockheed Martin Corp. won the bid. And although Canada was among the first of America’s allies to sign on to the research and development of the fighter, it isn’t the only ally to do so. Britain invested 10 times more than Canada did to take part in the process, and was rewarded with share of the contract. Australia, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Italy and Turkey are also on board with the program. The reason the F-35 is popular with so many nations is the enhanced effect and potential cost savings of having allies share similar equipment.

Nearly 100 Canadian companies and thousands of technology jobs with ties to the Joint Strike Fighter program are expected to benefit from the federal government’s decision to buy U.S.-built warplanes.


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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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  1. What's up with the Iggomaniac? Is he afraid that the planes will turn out to be lemons like the submarines purchased by a previous Liberal government.

  2. In his defence Ignatieff has been getting a great deal of bad advice on what to say and do in politics since joining the Liberals.

    Apparently his advisors were unable to do some basic research in determining how this was a decade in the making starting from the Liberals.

    It happened with the Liberal doing the sole supplier for the H1N1 to find out quickly how that backfired.

    I have no reason to explain why the Liberals appear to make poor decisions.

  3. Get rid of the CBC and we could buy twice as many planes.

    16 billion over 20 years vs 32 billion over 20 years.

    $1.6 billion a year for lame comedies, boring sitcoms, bogus documentaries and biased news shouldn't be worth twice as much as a fleet of fighter aircraft.

  4. I think it is time for iggy to get rid of all those young lib following him. Most of them were still in diapers or training pants when this story first broke and they would know nothing about it. Neither does iggy, imagine dissing a program your previous leader started. Shouldn't Garneau have known.
    I think if the WMA had been invoked during the riots iggy would have said, it has never been used in Canada before.
    Shouldn't Peter D have known, as he was a big honcho with JC. Are his handlers deliberately getting him into trouble to get rid of him.

  5. Read this:

    The alternatives aren't even cheaper.