Dan Albas, MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has long taken a tough stance on the Lockheed Martin F-35 multirole jet fighter.
In 2015, his promise to Canadians was clear. “We will not buy the F-35 stealth fighter bomber,” he said.
Trudeau further stated that the F-35 “didn’t work” and “it doesn’t make sense anymore, if it ever did, to have a first-strike capable fifth-generation stealth fighter.” .
Things changed this week when his government announced that it had now decided that the F-35 would be the preferred replacement aircraft for the CF-18.
Negotiations will now begin to purchase 88 new F-35 fighter jets at a cost currently estimated at around $19 billion.
What was also very interesting about this Liberal decision was that recently released documents obtained under freedom of information rules revealed that the government’s communications strategy to justify the purchase of the F-35 had been drawn up two years ago, in 2020.
Why was a “communication strategy” necessary? As the Ottawa Citizen reports, it was “justifying how the federal government could buy the F-35 even though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed Canada wouldn’t buy the stealth fighter and had no use for it.” “.
What was in this communication strategy? Advice on how to avoid “dealing with direct statements from the Liberals that the F-35s would not be purchased. Instead, the focus has been on the procurement process itself.
That’s largely what Supply Minister Filomena Tassi did during the announcement, which Trudeau was not present at.
This is not the first time the Liberals have played politics when it comes to replacing the aging equipment our forces need. Many may recall that in 1992 the Liberals also campaigned to reverse the replacement of the EH-101 helicopter with the aging Sea-King helicopter. This cancellation cost taxpayers $478 million in penalties when the Liberals canceled the $4.8 billion EH-101 helicopter order.
Canceling the Sea-King replacement did not negate the need to replace aging helicopters, it only delayed it further, and at a much greater cost to taxpayers. In fact, when the same Liberal government only a few years later announced the replacement of the Sea Kings, the new helicopters cost more, $6.2 billion.
When that contract was finally signed for 28 new CH-148 Cyclone helicopters, the total cost had increased by more than $7.6 billion. Due to numerous delays, an additional $495 million maintenance contract was required to keep the 55-year-old Sea-King helicopters safely in the air.
I mention all of this because playing politics with military procurement does little more than leave our forces with aging, less efficient and very expensive aircraft to fly. It also increases potential replacement costs for taxpayers.
My question this week:
Do you support the purchase of the 88 Lockheed-Martin F-35 jet fighters?
I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.