07.16.2010 09:47 AM

You want a real election issue for a country struggling with a massive deficit? Here’s one

Tories poised to announced controversial, sole sourced $16B jet purchase
The Canadian Press
Jul 16, 2010 4:09

OTTAWA – The Harper government was expected to announce today one of the biggest military equipment purchases in history – a controversial, non-competitive $16-billion contract to build a new generation of fighter jets.

Three cabinet ministers, led by Defence Minister Peter MacKay, were scheduled to make a major military procurement announcement in Ottawa, where it was expected they would confirm the long-anticipated plan to buy the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter from Lockheed Martin.

The jet purchase and the accompanying long-term maintenance plan have drawn criticism from the Liberal opposition and former senior public servants who say the massive outlay of public cash lacks transparency because it was not subjected to other competitive bids.

The total value of the contract is expect to rival the total amount spent by the Conservatives four years ago, when they rolled out a series of high-profile military purchases of transport planes, helicopters and armoured trucks.

The 65 new jets would replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of CF-18s that recently underwent a $2.6 billion upgrade.

MacKay has assured Parliament there would be a competitive process for the selection of new planes, but the Harper cabinet has reportedly decided to go with an untendered contract.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says he would put the deal on hold if he were elected prime minister.


  1. “Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says he would put the deal on hold if he were elected prime minister.”

    Sounds a lot like Mr. Chretien canceling the purchase of EH101 helicopters, you know, except Iggy ain’t no Chretien. Perhaps he’ll go on a listening tour to see what Canadians think…

  2. Darrell says:

    There are many Canadian companies that will profit from the purchase of these fighter jets; kudos for the Chretien Liberal Government’s initial investment. My question is why does Mr. Ignatieff contradict most of Mr. Chretien’s ideas?

    • Bill King says:

      I agree. Chretien made the right decision by investing in these JSF jets. And Harper is doing the right thing by moving forward in support of the Chretien government’s decision.

      So let’s bring it on – Chretien & Harper versus the guy who wasn’t even living in Canada when the decision was made!

      Yep, sounds like a GREAT election issue to me.


    • Paul R. Martin says:

      Once again, the Liberal Party seems to be against the Canadian military. This is not a winning issue for the Liberals.

      • Namesake says:

        Au contraire: they just want to let the military do its job properly with the tools it needs and actually ASK them what those tools are instead of foisting them on it for political or possible self-interest reasons.

        This purchase strikes some of us as just dumb. Like the new Honda commercial, where the gleeful husband reveals the new half-million$ single passenger Indy racecar he just purchased, and the wife marches back into the house in disgust (when probably what they really needed and could have got for half that $ was a hybrid for him, an SUV for her & the kids, a riding mower & snow blower for the yard; and a fishing boat & trailer for the cabin). But at least she can say, “It’s not happening.”

        In this case, the military & its CIVIL SERVANT planners should be asked what their aircraft needs are for the next 10-20 years, and from what the various boards are saying, 1) it wouldn’t be just this F-35 jet, which is a jack of trades but master of none; 2) it’d be a mix of fighter jets & search & rescue ones & a bunch of other things.
        But there hasn’t been a proper needs assessment since 1993.

        And MacKay, the Defense Minister, himself admitted on P&P that he’s no expert on this stuff. No, it all stinks of bad — pointy-headed guy in Dilbert, class — management.

        • Paul R. Martin says:

          Au contraire, it was the Liberals who originally got Canada involved in the development of this airplane. Are the Liberals who are complaining “half pregnant” again?

          • Namesake says:

            No, it’s the Cons who are only telling half-truths.

            The Libs were just dating, as it were.

            Initially ponying up $168-M towards the R&D was just a cagey, wise investment in pay-to-play arrangement in that industry, which has already been recouped in over $300-M Cndn. contracts.

            It was never a purchase agreement — the intention was always to see whether the final outcome was suitable for our needs.

            And it’s not: it’s already doubled in costs; it’s unproven tech. & is probably going to be very buggy (who buys the first v’s of a new product? tech nerds who pay 10 times what its worth & are the guinea pig beta testers for all the recalls); as an all-in-one swiss-army-knife jet, it might do nothing well (too heavy & sluggish to win dogfights in defensive actions; too cluttered to have much of a payload for bombs, etc.); and it’s main selling point — stealth & first strike capability — are not only in q. as the detection equipment continues to evolve, as well, but they’re not at all what we’re about. This is Canada. WE’RE NOT IN THE BUSINESS OF MAKING FIRST STRIKES. Any General or PM who thinks we are, or will be, should be run out of office on a rail as Dr. Strangelove/Jack D. Ripper wingnuts.

            But it’s the Cons are being conveniently quiet about the fact that it was they who, in your terms, got us in the family way when they sunk another half billion into this in 2006, even tho’ they should have known better by then since Australia was backing away from it by then cuz of its crazy cost overruns.

            See http://www.thestar.com/news/article/149295–canada-commits-500m-to-jet and Brian Rice’s post on this & my first comment on it at: http://www.processingpolitics.ca/2010/07/fighter-jets.html#comments

          • Paul R. Martin says:

            More anti military nonsense from the Liberals. They consistently complain when money is spent on the military. By the way, I lived on or near air force bases until I went to university. After he retired from the air force, my father worked for the DND. I am well aware of the anti military bias that exists within the Liberal Party.

          • Namesake says:

            ah, I see, an airforce brat: that’s how you Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, and why you, “can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.” Carry on, then. But use your own $16B.. and don’t fly our flag when you make the first strike with these crotch rockets: you don’t represent what this country stands for.

          • Paul R. Martin says:

            Why is it that some people are simply unable to admit that they have a bias? Namesak’es last rant proves my point that he is completely biased against the military. He goes off on a very silly rant making dumb assumptions, without knowing that I am 64 and am possibly better educated than he is.

          • Namesake says:

            Well, of course, I’m biased more in favour of expenditures on health care & education & social programs than on the military… yes, I’m a federal Liberal; that goes without saying (since I’ve said it here before). And clearly you’re biased in favour of spending much more on the military; so what.

            And hopefully we can agree for the sake of argument that ultimately, our views are based on non-rational factors: that we are in no small measure products of our genetic inheritance, upbringing, and cultural circumstances while growing up.

            Let’s even agree for the sake of argument that we should be spending at least an additional $Billion a year over the next 20 years for the military’s aircraft needs.

            Does that mean we should both automatically approve of this purchase on the basis of this govt’s say-so & the previous Liberal govt’s involvement in its development? Not at all.

            A no. of important q’s remain: Do we need more fighter jets (as opposed to continuing to upgrade the existing stock: apparently even their aging frames can be retrofitted)? Do we need _these_ particular ones? Are they affordable? Are they reliable? Could we get a better price? And do we need 65 of them — should we put all our eggs in one basket? Or do we need a mix of diff. types of aircraft (& training & service contracts) for our unique needs?

            What it comes down to at this point is: Do we trust this govt’s judgment in making this purchase for us?

            Not on the basis of the reasons they gave, we don’t: “Eye-watering technology” [see crotch rocket; penis envy, etc.] and ‘We don’t want to offend the Americans or make them think we’re not committed to our mutual NATO & NORAD defense obligations.’ [Look, if we really owe the US more towards the development of this beast, we should just give them another half billion free & clear to match what the Cons gave them in 2006, and be done with that…. and let them go ahead and buy the 2,400 units they want & think they need, while we do some proper needs assessment as of 2010 ff. & buy the mish-mash of things we decide _we_ need.]

            And not on the basis of their other major decisions, which have been done in the pointed absence and even outright defiance of the best expert advice within the professional civil service (including the Defense Dep’t) and crown corporations: like on nuclear plant safety; summit security; whether, when, how much, what kind, where & for how long stimulus spending is needed; whether, what kind, & how… etc. StatCan & other agencies should do data collection & analysis, etc. etc.

            This is a gov’t that flies by the seat of their pants & plays hunches & turns their noses up at informed decisions as being the stuff of the elites. That’s no way to run a country or a multi-billion dollar operation.

            We want to be satisfied that this is the best decision for both the military and the country — i.e., a prudent decision that they’ve done their due diligence on — and so should you be.

            And from what I’ve seen, there are plenty of reservations about blowing too much $$ on this particular aircraft from people who are very well-informed about military aircraft & procurement who aren’t biased against multi-billion dollar military purchases: just against foolish ones.

            People like the former Cndn ADM Alan Williams I mentioned elsewhere here;

            and Bill Sweetman, a journalist and author of more than 30 books on military aviation technology

            and, oh, the US Congress http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/16/AR2010071606037.html

            In this time of austerity, acc. to the PM’s own recent lecture to the world, this is no time to making mind-boggling mult-billion purchases just on the basis of knee-jerk, bumper sticker “Support the military” slogans.

          • Paul R. Martin says:

            So why do I believe that if a Liberal Government had made a similar decision, that you would write an equally long note in praise of the decision complete with footnotes and quotes from so-called experts who were in favour of the decision?

          • Paul R. Martin says:

            By the way “Namesake”, your style of arguing reminds me of an earlier politician and you do apperar to have some access to Liberal Party “research”. Perhaps I should call you Justin instead of Namesake.

        • Zachary Scott Smith says:

          You wrote, “Well, of course, I’m biased more in favour of expenditures on health care & education & social programs than on the military… yes, I’m a federal Liberal; that goes without saying (since I’ve said it here before).

          I was wondering what your thoughts are on the massive transfer cuts that were put in place by the previous Liberal Governments and the fact that they almost destoryed the health care & education & social programs in Ontario, while at the same time stripping the funding for the military.

          It would on the surface appear that you are trying to take both sides of the issues, but are onlying dealing with one, which in the view of the average Canadian which would explain your dismissive “so what” that we hear from so many Liberals when they are asked to explain the lack of policy and position.

          • Namesake says:

            Well I certainly didn’t like it, being on the wrong end of the recession & jobless recovery, but come on: the country was facing a Greece-like crisis of the international bond market downgrading us to junk status & our facing bankruptcy, thanks to the Cons’ profligate spending, so the Libs made some tough choices & balanced the budget, & eventually restored the social spending & built up a surplus. And then the Cons took over, made a bunch of bad choices, and are deliberately spending us into bankruptcy again so they can reduce the size of gov’t. I don’t see any contradiction on my part. And of course I personally had nothing to do with any of those decisions.

  3. Mulletaur says:

    Why wouldn’t the party that shut down our first and best shot at an aerospace industry and then cut up the planes now continue to subsidize the Yankee military-industrial complex with Canadian taxpayers’ money ? The Conservatives, same old, same old …

  4. Namesake says:

    Ironically, this issue actually dovetails with the other one: this “who needs research capacity and investment in Canada when we can suck up to our good buddies we most want to be like, America” Harper gov’t has out-sourced the processing of our census data to an American co., Lockheed Martin (and how’s that for a privacy breach, BTW)




  5. Karlheinz must be back in town.

  6. Sandra says:

    Oh the memories – when the Liberals had to clean up Mulroney debts:

    “I do not intend to dispute in any way the need for defence cuts and the need for government spending cuts in general. ?I do not share a not in my backyard approach to government spending reductions.”

    – Stephen Harper, Hansard, May 23rd 1995.

  7. smelter rat says:

    An untended contract to boot!

  8. pdpd says:

    This doesn’t have to be a yes or no question. The issue with transparent bidding is also that it can offer other possibilities. For example, the Super Hornet seems to be a cheaper and totally credible alternative. But for obvious reasons the military would prefer F35s. But this is why we don’t generally approve of sole-source contracts, so that we can have an open process where the alternatives are put forth clearly and openly.

  9. Squiggy says:

    We are not dealing here with pencils and erasers……competitive bids are a good idea if you are looking at suppliers bidding to provide essentially the same thing…In this case,the Lockheed F-35 is reputed to be the best fighter plane available…..In cases like this,you can’t settled for second best……

  10. Ted H. says:

    Back when the decision to buy the F18 jets was made, the advantage of twin engines for long Arctic patrols was a factor. Arctic sovereinty is a major part of Canada’s military role into the future so this rationale should still be important. The F35 has only one engine but has other capabilities that perhaps are not important to Canada’s military role, unless of course the brass and the Government just want the same toys as the big boys and don’t really care about a pilot loosing an engine way up near the Arctic circle with the nearest help about 2000 KM distant.

    • Namesake says:

      They were asked about that at the presser an hour ago, and MacKay stared right in to the cameras and said an engine stall “won’t happen.” This a mere two days after the whole country guffaws over the breakdown of vastly less complicated new Liberal bus. Hubris? Callous? Disingenous? Or just idiocy.

    • Jan says:

      MacKay said at the presser this morning that the engines will not fail. Period. So we have his word on it…

      • Ronald O'Dowd says:


        Right. You have my word on it — Harper’s majority is just around the corner…at least in another dimension!

  11. Cam says:

    Granted these are very advanced jets but does Al-Qaeda now have an air force? I must have missed that news item. The nature of the threats against us changed in the last 15 years but here we’re spending money, we don’t have, on the same old war machines via a closed process.

    The Taliban blend in with the population and hide out in the open. How do F35’s help us against these enemies in places like Afghanistan where Canadians are dying? Do F35s help us find IEDs better? Are they smarter than the F16 so they target just the bad guys? I doubt it. Why aren’t we re-tooling our military today to deal with these threats?

    Military decision making in this country is stuck in 1958. And it’s not ‘treasonous’ to get the best price on military hardware if that’s really what the majority of Canadian taxpayers feel is necessary.

    Money saved through an open bidding process could be diverted to the deficit or to measures that deal with the new types of threats. Drones like the Predator, or maybe one developed in Canada, could patrol our territory more efficiently. The Coast Guard, SAR, scientific research vessels and community development are good places to spend the money if demonstrating sovereignty is the goal.

    • Cam says:

      Gord – Well they might be used in conjunction with them for military use but they’re not central to the drone’s operations.

      “Currently, the US Air Force uses a concept called “Remote-Split Operations” where the satellite datalink is located in a different location and is connected to the GCS through fiber optic cabling. This allows Predators to be launched and recovered by a small “Launch and Recovery Element” and then handed off to a “Mission Control Element” for the rest of the flight. This allows a smaller number of troops to be deployed to a forward location, and consolidates control of the different flights in one location.”


      There are alternatives to F35s, especially when you’re looking at surveillance and SAR.

  12. Philippe says:

    God almighty… This can’t be real. What’s it going to take to force an election? Screw the polls, they need to be stopped. I work hard for my money and can’t afford this government.

  13. bc says:

    Untendered? Who cares.

    These jets are the best on the market. It’s not like another company other than Lockhead Martin could offer them, so what’s the issue?

    We’re not comparing apples to apples here.

    • ottlib says:

      From a pilot point of view I would really hate to be flying one of these in the training areas of Northern Quebec or Northern Alberta when a whole mess of engine warning lights come on.

      It has happened a fair number of times to the F-18 over the years but having that extra engine has mostly prevented any kind of disasters.

      • bc says:

        A military specialist apparently disagrees…

        “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.”

        From the CBC, no less.

        Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/07/16/canada-jets.html#ixzz0tsQ9yeMz

        • Namesake says:

          pretty selective reading of the article, tho’:
          1) I saw that Military analyst being interviewed, a well-coifffed Ms. Mercedes Stephenson, & am pretty sure she has zero flight-experience, so don’t put much stock in what she says on that
          2) “survivability” presumably refers to whether someone can survive a crash, either from getting ejected far away from it as it goes down, or from it being rugged enuff for you to survive more or less intact as a crash test dummy; but the point of having two engines is so IT DOESN’T CRASH THANKS TO THE REDUNDANT ENGINE.
          3) The NDP critic pointed out there hasn’t been a proper needs assessment for the past 15 years: this has been a top-down decision by Harper not wanting to offend the Americans. He’s
          prepared to squander billions on that, whereas Chretien had the gonads to say “No way,” when it was a bone-headed decision or policy (or invasion) we were being pressured into.

          As for this being a continuation of Chretien’s policy & it being hypocritical to oppose, that’s a Whiggish / BS / Spin reading of the history: sure, we ponied up a token $150 to its R&D, but w. absolutely no commitment to but, & that bought us the right to be used as a supplier for some of its parts, which has had a multiplier effect.

          • bc says:

            That is a large presumption – I don’t believe she was talking about the pilots safety at all…I believe she was talking about the plane itself.

            As for questioning Ms. Stephenson’s credibility, shame on you. She was well versed in the topic on hand, and clearly has enough of a history to be the CBC’s point woman on this issue. You’re comment on her physical appearance leads one to believe that you feel she has little to nothing of importance to say on a matter of military defense because she is an attractive woman. That is, well, sexist…

            The NDP critic is free to make that assertion, but keep in mind they’d like nothing more than to have a commission/private inquiry/needs assessment on anything and everything…even to the point where nothing gets done.

            The facts are simple…

            1. This is the best jet in the world
            2. All of our allies have invested in the same technology
            3. Only one company makes them.

          • Namesake says:

            Come on, just cuz she’s a go-to person for the CBC & others who need an insta-pundit on things military doesn’t mean her success as a Talking Head hasn’t been largely a function of her looks; she’s predominantly a media personality.



            … and there’s little evidence that she knows what Canada’s actual military needs are, as opposed to how to read the Con’s press releases. And even she admits it’s questionable why we need stealth and first strike capability.

            Tho’ I looked at the clip again,

            http://www.cbc.ca/video/player.html?category=News&clipid=1545051668 linked at:

            But you’re right, it seems the “survivability” she was talking about was whether the the plane could weather the weather, as it were…. i.e., if it’s likely to crap out simply cuz of the cold. Nevertheless, that doesn’t speak to the vital point she was supposedly rebutting of whether a non-weather related equipment failure on the engine is apt to be more expensive &/or fatal with this type of plane compared to a twin-engine one.

            In contrast, Alan Williams, the much nerdier former ADM of Defense who _does_ know this issue intimately cuz he wrote the original MOU which got this ball rolling & has just written a book on defense procurements, just told Solomon on Power & Politics that this was a very bad deal, both for being sole-sourced with no competitive bid & for not clearly being the type of plane Canada will need in 5 years, at all.

          • Zachary Scott Smith says:

            Namesake you had written.

            “As for this being a continuation of Chretien’s policy & it being hypocritical to oppose, that’s a Whiggish / BS / Spin reading of the history: sure, we ponied up a token $150 to its R&D, but w. absolutely no commitment to but, & that bought us the right to be used as a supplier for some of its parts, which has had a multiplier effect.”

            Two comments,

            The first one being that only a Liberal would dismiss $160.0 million dollars as a token amount.

            The second being , judging from the available history and facts, it would appear that the current Liberal party is continuing where the previous liberal Government left off.

            because when the Liberals won and Chrétien became prime minister one of his first acts was to scrap the Tory deal.

            An act that cost the Canadian government nearly $500 million in cancellation fees and the air force prolonged their life by spending $80 million annually to keep them flying adding another $ 1.2 billion the cost.

            So here we are a couple of decades later, $1.7 Billion dollars poorer and still no choppers and what has been said about the deal that the Liberals made and just why do you believe that I would believe that the outcome regarding the planes would be any different than the choppers given the Liberal record.

            Well the Sea Kings have been called “flying coffins.”

            The Sea Kings are now a sick, aging fleet, with pieces literally falling out of the skies.

            Twenty-eight of them remain in service, and those still flying are often hit by flameouts, engine stalls, generator failures and gearbox problems.

            Pilots have died flying them, falling into oceans, crashing into muskeg – more so the older they get.

          • Namesake says:

            re: ZSS’s: “Only a Liberal would dismiss $160.0 million dollars as a token amount”:

            come on, in federal terms, $160-M for some R&D in a joint ten-year development project to help meet our mutual NORAD & NATO needs — amd so just $16-M a year– is surely peanuts for any party, when the total Defense Budget of Canada is, what, well over $20-Billion a year: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures
            i.e., over a thousand times that.

            And when the Cons can blow at least a billion — but probably two — for a single weekend of fruitless meetings & photo ops, you can’t tell me the Cons can take any high ground on matters of fiscal responsibility or frugality.

      • Chet says:

        How about you ask a Hornet pilot? Or maybe F-16 pilots for the Dutch, Danes, Norwegians and Americans who all fly in and around the Arctic or a ton of time over water. There’s also the Swedes with their single engine Gripens.

        Two engines cost billions more to buy and maintain. Just not worth it.

    • James Smith says:

      Why do we need such a thing?

      We need a rethink of why have a fighter aircraft in the first place, just to have the latest toy? Why is this the best if it can be shot down by a $5K missile? What role does it play in the defence of Canada? None of this has been answered, this is just assuming that since spits were good, & window makers were better than this thing is even better still.

      I put to you that UAVs can do a far better job at a fraction of the cost. But like EVERY THING this person does, it is the decision has been made, no discussion.

  14. Wascally Wabbit says:

    Another wedge issue Warren? Playing to the choir of those in love with the armed forces for sentimental – rather than practical reasons!
    Not knowing much about the military but knowing a little about what wars we are in and where – I’d say an investment in drones would make a lot more sense – both on the basis of practicality in the types of wars and war zones we are in and simply on costs – drones are cheaper.

  15. Don Carruthers says:

    Anyway, I agree with WK that opposing this may be great politics for the Liberals, a la the EH-101 helicopter. The finer details of the matter are irrelevant to the politics of it. That was the case with the EH-101 — the Liberals’ opposition to it was entirely opportunistic and the consensus is that their cancellation of that contract ended up costing Canada a ton of money in penalties, lawsuits, etc and was actually a financially dumb decision. That was part of the irony: a campaign stance that was seemingly based on fiscal prudence was ultimately an act of financial stupidity. But it didn’t matter. It was great politics.

    Obviously, though, aside from being a politically attractive thing to oppose, there are a number of substantive differences between this purchase and the EH-101.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      Amen. I’m already blocking out in my head how to do the ads. This is manna from heaven for Liberals.

  16. JStanton says:

    This is hardly an election issue. The Harper Government has invested heavily in weapons systems from day one – from tanks, to apcs, to Globemasters, initially while denying the gutting of Canada’s manufacturing sector and the third of a million related jobs lost, and then while trying to buy polling points through the “bail out”.

    And what do today’s polls say? That, evidently, it doesn’t matter how much money is redirected from our communities to foreign weapons manufacturers, more Canadians prefer the Stephan Harper party to the alternative.

    The purchase of irrelevant, growing liabilities in the form of these fighter aircraft is not going to push fans of Mr. Harper into the arms of opposition parties. For conservatives, shiny new weapons are an erection substitution. And, obviously, liberals will remain as disgusted as ever at Mr. Harpers profligacy, so are highly unlikely to boost his numbers.

    • Cam says:

      Great turn of phrase there JS.

      But I disagree because it’s the kind of issue that begs for concrete alternatives and an understanding of geo politics. I’m a proud Canadian and know that many thousands before me died in the Great War, WWII, Korea and today in Afghanistan. But we’re a country with the population the size of California. The US is 10 times our size and I just don’t see how we can cut tax revenues and then expect to fund a world class Navy, Army and Air Force. Especially when the enemy hides out in the open.

      Something’s gotta give.

      Our value to our allies should come in the form of what new threats dictate – concrete and reliable intelligence gathering that balances civil rights with national defense. We seem to be in no-man’s land when it comes to the development of national policy in this area, both legislation and military hardware.

      We could be world leaders if we tried.

      • JStanton says:

        Cam – I don’t think we disagree on any of the points you raise.

        The point I was trying to emphasize is that Mr. Harpers’s supporters will not budge because of this purchase, and nor will supporters of the opposition parties, so, in terms of election fodder, it’s a non-issue.

        If we are ever going to generate the numbers mandatory for regime change, we need a game-changer, one that shakes any “soft-Tories” loose, and brings non-Tories together. This issue is not the one.

        Actually, Canada pretty much committed to this program years ago, under a Liberal government, as did most NATO countries. The competition that produced this product was pretty stringent, from a performance and cost perspective, if I understand correctly, so the issue of “non-competitiveness” is therefore pretty much a non-starter too.

        Frankly, if this is all the LPC can come up with to attack the government, then we are in deep trouble. The only real issue is the timing and size of the order. What the LPC should be doing is focusing on that.

        • James Smith says:

          I think you will find we signed on so we can make parts. Just because one signed up to make hubcaps for FORDS does not mean one must purchase EDSELS.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      I would put it this way: not all of the Conservative support is rock hard (to continue with your analogy) and some of it can be peeled away with an election focus on this issue provided it’s done right. Michael has established his bona fides in foreign policy and defence circles. I say, let’s have at it and see how it shakes out in the campaign.

      Remember, this Prime Minister is best known for the glass ceiling he has been unable to crack over the past four years. There is considerable resistance to the idea of a Harper majority. This plays nicely into that, IMHO. Harper is PM not because he is a so-called competent economic manager. He’s there because some voters hit the reset button in 2006 and have yet to be swayed by the Liberal alternative. Put another way, this Prime Minister and his party are nothing more than the “default” choice to form government. It’s our job to turn that around. So let’s get it in gear and do all we can to reverse the “soft” trend.

  17. JH says:

    WK I’m not sure why you think or would favour this as an election issue when it is, from what I read, only a continuation of a Liberal policy while in government. I’m old though and easily confused, but I would have thought you’d be upset that the new crowd were backing away from JC’s policies?

    • Don Carruthers says:

      I’d also be interested in what WK has to say about that. Personally, I think optics are everything in politics, and that nuance about continuing some Chretien-era legacy would probably be lost in the dumbed-down partisan debate that would inevitably ensue. The average Canadian voter has the attention span of a ferret on a double espresso, to steal a line from Dennis Miller. The issue you raised is an important detail, but details don’t matter in a debate like this. Look at what happened with the EH-101 in 1993.

  18. another Greg says:

    Except this time everybody remembers the EH-101 fiasco; and we can count on being reminded frequently. The government, regardless who is called Prime Minister, will buy these.

    The real questions are Why do we really need them? and Why will nobody seriously discuss that?

  19. Lipman says:

    Beware of the military-industrial complex- Ike

  20. Pat Heron says:

    Good discussion. You’ve convinced me that fighter jets are obsolete and purchase of them will drive us deeper into debt with no real benefit. There has to be a better way to support the troops, the ones that we are bringing home from Afghanistan. Is there anything brewing on the planet that would require fighter jets? Where’s the analysis on that? What do we need them for, an aerobatic team?

    There’s mention of protecting Arctic sovereignty? Isn’t the US our greatest and must viable threat there? Hmmm, the suppliers of the jets and maintenance reside in the US. Nice!

    I’m happy to pay my taxes but not to squander them on useless aircraft.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Pat Heron,

      To my mind, in the final analysis this is about two things: a) stroking this Conservative government’s collective ego and b) ignoring the obvious choice of leaving air defense to a common policy for the North American defence perimeter. In other words, we minimize our fighter requirements by paying the Americans to do the job across the North American continent and buy a fighter best suited for our military requirements in foreign theatres where Canadian Forces are active in a combat situation on the ground. Does that mean a substantially reduced purchase of the JSF, the Super Hornet, another aircraft or suped-up drones? I will leave that to those on this blog who actually have expertise in this area.

  21. lr says:

    so this billion contract is going to a US firm, correct?? this is BS!!!

    get these clowns out of Ottawa now please!!!!

    • cDon Carruthers says:

      What Canadian military aviation firm are we supposed to buy them from? Avro?

    • lr says:

      How about NOT buying any at all??

      I do NOT agree with this purchase while our country is running a HUGE deficit. That’s all. Canada does not have the capacity to dig itself further into the ground like our southern neighbours.

  22. Kursk says:

    I would like to remind liberals that 17 years later, we still do not have the replacement for the Sea King helicopter. 17 years! The Sea King was obsolete when the replacement contract was tendered.

    I also see some here congratulate the Liberals for their political acumen in this deal, while neglecting to mention the fact that our sons and daughter have to fly (and possibly die in) these relics.

    As well, please remind yourself that as it has been the Liberals who have denied Canadians a military aviation industry based in Canada (no social re-engineering program left behind!) there should be no complaints when we have to go outside the country to purchase equipment that we cannot make here.

    • James Smith says:


      Sea King, funny story, what is the chopper that still carries the PoTUS? Yup, Sea King.
      Other funny story, even though we have a PM that never got a Gi-Joe-with-life-like-hair-&-action-grip & has been over compensating for- for like his whole life but especially since getting the big job by spending money on sole source contracts like, (well you know the cliche) what chopper are we someday getting? Oh yeah, the one that does not meet the criteria & we have forgiven the penalty clauses several times. Poor arms dealers, they might just once have to live up to their contracts.

      Just so you know Kursk, (are you really named after a submarine?) the present PM has been around for like 4 years, if he really wanted to he could have gone to the store & bought some Effing choppers.

      Furthermore, Army men never think they have enough kit. It is never good enough. Thing is, they always want to play with their shitte when they have it, they call it war & ask Edwin Starr what it’s good for.

  23. luke says:

    The F-35 issue is an interesting one and something that most people know very little about, other than the price.

    1. the idea that it was non-competitive is just wrong. The american gov held an open competition, for which Boeing and LHM went head to head. One of the requirements was vertical landing and taking off capability, similar to the harrier. The boeing jet couldn’t accomplish this task without being disassembled. Lockheed one the contract by producing a plane that met the desired capabilities.

    2. the cost is the issue. the original price tag the US gov was looking for was supposed to be between 20-50 million a plane. That didn’t happen. So COSTS are certainly something to be critical of.

    3. If we want to be involved/capable of being involved in future combat ops than the F-35 is something we simply have to by. There’s the option of the euro fighter, but we aren’t sharing a giant border with europe. This is the plane that best suits are needs.

    4. It’s the fact that this was released in the summer that should be a much bigger issue. To announce a multi-billion dollar spending initiative during the summer for the sole purpose of avoiding bad publicity speaks volumes. Maybe it is ‘politics’, but for a party that claims it’s different and ethical or whatever other garbage they say about themselves, this is low. But to attack the plan or the process the way that’s happening is wrong or an error. Attack the cost, but not the plane/non-comp angle.

    • James Smith says:

      So who will we be using these really cool planes to shoot at? The Chinese? Oh, & 65 will make a difference? Please! Army men & their Effing Toys!

      This programme is one that was flawed from the get go, have an aircraft that would fill a bunch of rolls all at once when the days of Battle of Britain aces in Spits is long gone. What is the role this fills other than penis envy?

      UAV’s can’t do the job? Fine, don’t do the job.
      Oh but we need a pilot in the seat. Really? Ask the grieving families who’s brave sons died as a result of a US Airforce pilot’s error in Afghanistan.

      Oh but we are going to get so many crumbs from the Arms dealers who make these cool things. Why not get a Canadian Company to build a train that I can get from here to most anyplace in Ontario or Quebec quickly instead.

      The REAL AVRO Arrow story is we are going to buy this very expensive pig-in-a-poke SOLE SOURCE fighter aircraft when in a world looking for an alternative to fossil fuel we are going to give away the CANDU technology with no debate.

  24. Sean says:

    Been watching the news clips of these machines… I have to admit that the “9 year old Transformers nut” in me thinks that these strike fighter / hovering machines do look pretty damn awesome! Megatron and Starscream are clearly behind this scheme… Where the hell is Optimus Prime?!

  25. James Smith says:

    The present PM keeps making these sole source military purchases – for what reason?
    This person has NEVER given a full contributors list for his leadership campaign.
    Perhaps I’m just paranoid.

  26. Rick T. says:

    It is long past time for new fighters. I hear people complaining that the government just spent 2 billion plus on upgrading the Hornet. Well they have to to keep them flying until the new fighters arrive in 2016. Were either in the game or out. I want in. I am not ready to be the 51 state quite yet.

  27. darcy says:

    Listen here you LIBERAL People. J Chretian started the ball rolling with this issue. This means that the God of God Liberals was working on this long before Harper came along. Do I have to repeat this for you Liberal Slow learners. Harper is doing exactly what you people allowed JC to do. So please, all whining LIBERALS just SHUT THE F UP.

    • Namesake says:

      Where to begin. First, we’re not whining: more like chortling / guffawing / laughing at the idiocy of this. Second, ‘case you haven’t noticed from the goings on at this blog, Libs aren’t like the con-bot sheeple who just fall into line w. whatever their leader tells them to. Third, Chretien didn’t for one second commit us to buying even one of these turkeys; he just put in a little seed money — just 1% of what that dupe Harper has just committed us to — to its Research & Development, both to placate the Americans (who, it’s true, presumably do have our backs on continental security) and to be eligible for some of the contracts which went into it, which did materialize so that money’s been recouped.

      Here’s an analogy you should be able to understand for where we’re at. Suppose for the sake of argument that we’re talking about the entertainment industry instead of defense.

      So, we need programming for CBC TV, and our studio system ain’t much to write home about, so ten years ago, Heritage Canada figures what the hey, & invests a token 168 thousand in CBS to develop new shows that we’ll be eligible to buy, with the proviso that some of the work has to be done here. And it is — they hire a bunch of our writers & stage hands etc in the intervening years when they make the pilot for over $300 grand in wages, so we’re happy, whatever comes of it.

      Ten years later, they finally get back to us and say: well, here it is: just CSI, 65 shows per season (3 hrs per nite), and the offer is we’re supposed to buy 20 seasons of it for $16.8-Million (at least twice the initially projected costs), take it or leave it. Oh, and it’s not even the best CSI (Las Vegas): they’re keeping that (the F2) for themselves; it’s just the glitzy but shallow CSI-Miami.

      Are we supposed to say, yes please, thank you massa.. or, uh, no, I think we’ll shop around and _maybe_ take a couple of seasons of it, for a price we’ll negotiate, but we’re also going to go to the other networks for some other types of programming, and, hey, maybe even develop some of our own to help our own economy. (Oh, I know the Cons are saying we have a _chance_ at getting some of the $12-B in contracts now that we’ve signed the dotted line, but they’re suckers: it’s probably just a fat chance.)

      So, even if the previous leader of Heritage Canada or the govt was partial to CSI-Miami (which of course he wasn’t — or have you forgotten Chretien’s “we don’t need or want Cadillacs” comment about the helicopters) & was still in power, there’s no way we’d all bend over & take it & endorse that deal: we’d laugh him out of town, as you lot should, too.

      • darcy says:

        Hey namesake, Iggy needs a smart guy like yourself in the Liberal Front office. You can advise him on, well, a bunch of bullshit.

      • Zachary Scott Smith says:

        Namesake writes,

        ” there’s no way we’d all bend over & take it & endorse that deal: we’d laugh him out of town, as you lot should, too.”

        No butt (play on words), you do expect Canadians to bend over and take from the Liberals, try getting some public policy, lose the attitude and try to remember why Canadians tossed your sorry little butts from office in the first place and if in doubt as to why, see lack of public policy, adscam and I am entitled to my entitlements to name a few.

        By the way, with the exception of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, Canadians did laugh your party out of almost every town and city in Canada, not once but twice now and with the Liberals sitting at 23% in the polls it is very likely that they will again, the next time Ignatieff says “Mr. Harper your time is up”

        No, if butts or how about it.

        • Namesake says:

          What, you like big butts and so cannot lie?

          I might take this scolding about my ‘tude to heart if I were in any way an official spokeperson for the Libs, but reality check: that was a pointless attack, since an anonymous counter-sniper hanging out at all hours at an exile’s Hole in the Wall is hardly likely to be one of the old entitled guard, is he/she.

          And the issue here isn’t do the Libs deserve to get reelected yet, butt: did the Cons make a stupid decision here? And yes, they did, and if you Cons can’t see that, then, hey, can we have a billion dollars a year, too? We’ll put it to good use, honest, though we can’t quite tell you what the annual expenses will be, yet. But we’ll be buying American, so it must be a great deal….

  28. Darren B says:

    Read this:


    Now you decide, if the Air Force has the right perspective.

  29. Chet says:

    Is the Liberal record on here that much better? Allan Williams (though a civil servant at the time) helped sole-source 100 Griffons (which are utterly useless) and two Challengers (which weren’t needed) under Chretien. And that was the only two major platform purchases for the CF in the whole Chretien term.

    Not saying the sole sourcing is right, but I’d like to hear what the Chief of Air Staff has to say. If that’s the fighter he needs, and there’s nothing else that fits the bill, why not buy for the CF?

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