Canada’s Conservatives: Historically Inept when it comes to Defence

Not the real deal, just a wooden mock-up for one of Peter Mackay’s endless photo-ops.

I hate to say I told you so…

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but guess what – the F-35 program doesn’t even meet the defence ministry’s requirements for a new fighter, and no other bids were considered. This was a cash grab to reward business partners of individual members of the Conservative government, plain and simple. Even though top defence analysts were sounding the alarm years ago, the Tories simply pressed on to acquire a paltry sixty five F-35s, at the over-inflated cost of about fifteen billion dollars.

That’s your money. Money which could otherwise be going to build bullet trains, hospitals or schools, or perhaps saving the people of Attawapiskat from freezing or starving to death.

And all that money wouldn’t have included actually purchasing weapons or engines for the fighters, these were to be leased. The fighter was also hampered by it’s single engine (typically, combat missions in Canada’s Arctic require the power and capabilities of twin engines, like the Hornet and most other fighter types used in Canada), not to mention unproven testing record and comparatively small weapons load and restricted range. In sum, everything about this project made it inappropriate for Canadian service, and several other types of fighters were available, for less money, yet were never considered. Moreover, the project lacked much local economic spinoff in terms of long-term employment, and the number of aircraft to be acquired was insufficient to meet our nation’s air-defence requirements.

Of course this is nothing new for the Conservative Party of Canada. Diefenbaker famously killed the Avro Arrow, one of the most technologically advanced fighter aircraft ever built, and in turn set our aviation industry back for a generation. We still haven’t fully recovered. It was under Mulroney’s government that our military facilities in Germany were shut down, and today we have to rent space at other nation’s military facilities. His 1987 Defence White Paper made many promises, of which none came to fruition, with the exception of some expensive VIP jets. And now Harper is following in their footsteps, promising a lot and delivering nothing, except for a remarkably large bill.

How does he keep a straight face when he says that the Tories are the greatest proponents of the Canadian Forces? Bullshit – almost all the equipment our military uses today was procured under Liberal Prime Ministers.

The F-35 debacle is just another example of typical Tory procurement strategy – use the public purse to pay big dividends to your business partners at the expense of the tax-payer; since their only recourse is to vote the politician out of office, once the transaction is completed, the politician moves on to a corporate board of directors. The institution that is the Canadian government is merely a ladder by which to enter the upper echelons of world corporate governance, and it’s paid for by the unsuspecting tax-payers.

Really makes you wonder why we don’t all refuse, in unison, to pay our taxes until we get a full explanation of why our government was about to commit billions of dollars on inadequate fighter jets, and has been unable to realize on-time deliveries of Chinook and Cyclone helicopters too. Just what exactly are they doing with the defence budget?

I’d really like to know.

Final thought. At one point the idea was that we simply acquire the newer version of the F/A-18 Hornet. The ‘Super Hornet’ is an enlarged version of the original, with modern sensors and weapons. It has two engines, can operate in the Arctic, off of aircraft carriers or improvised airstrips. We built our CF-18 Hornets here in Canada, why couldn’t we simply build the new one here as well? The CF-18 has served this country exceptionally well since the late-1980s, has flown combat missions over Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya and is ideally suited for the primary mission of aerospace defence inasmuch as they can be deployed in peace-making endeavours abroad. It is superior to the F-35 in countless ways, and we already have the local expertise to build the more modern version here at home.

Would this not be the more economically-sound alternative to the F-35 acquisition plan? Wouldn’t building the aircraft locally, according to our own specifications, support many more jobs here at home? And if we built an even better version than the original, could we not them sell such aircraft to our allies, at a profit? Would this not aid our economy in general and our aerospace industry, both directly and indirectly over a longer period of time?

Is there no more economic conservatism in the Conservative Party of Canada?

Seems that way…