In an article in the Globe and Mail, Parliamentary Affairs correspondent Daniel LeBlanc details the convoluted process through which the Trudeau regime will try to keep two contradictory promises: “In the last federal election,” he reminds us, “the Liberals said in their platform that they would not buy the F-35, promising instead to select “one of the many, lower-priced options that better match Canada’s defence needs …”
… “However,” Daniel LeBlanc reports, “the Liberals also promised to launch an “open and transparent” competition, which is now scheduled to be launched in May.“
Now, I have suggested that, in light of President Donald Trump’s wholly bogus and completely dishonest attack on Canada’s aluminium and steel industries, that Canada can and even should consider buying anything but American when the fighter jet competition comes up … but I have also suggested that Lockheed Martin , the maker of the F-35 Lightening II, and Bombardier are, already, cooperating on several projects and they (Lockheed Martin), rather than Airbus might be more natural allies and, therefore, the F-35 might be answer to revitalizing Canada’s aerospace industry.
Caveat lector: I need to reiterate that, just as with ships and tanks, I have no informed opinion about which is the best fighter jet for Canada ~ I’m not a fighter pilot, I’m not an aeronautical engineer, and I’m not an expert on Canada’s defence industrial base, so any opinions I might hold about one fighter vs another are uninformed.
The Trudeau Liberals painted themselves into this corner by making rash promises as they tried to capitalize on the ill-informed, manufactured controversy about the F-35, some of which was caused by Department of National Defence officials and Canadian Forces generals playing fast and loose with cost data.
Daniel LeBlanc also reports, in a different article in the Globe and Mail, that “Canada has modified the mandatory specifications for its next fleet of fighter jets to make it easier for European manufacturers to qualify for the $26-billion contract and foster more competition among five qualified bidders, federal officials said … [because] … Under the previous Conservative government, the requirements for the fighter jets could be met only by the Lockheed-Martin F-35 fighter jet, a stealth aircraft developed by an international coalition of countries including the United States, Britain and Canada … [but] … To allow for a competition, the current Liberal government asked National Defence to revise the requirements to allow more companies to qualify for the contract.“
“In particular,” Mr LeBlanc writes, “the requirements for secure communications between Canadian and American aircraft and other military assets were modified to give all potential bidders additional time to meet them. The changes are especially useful to European bidders (Dassault Aviation of France, Sweden’s SAAB Aeronautics and British-based Airbus Defence), given that U.S.-based Lockheed-Martin and Boeing already play key roles in the U.S. military … [but] … “We obviously have NATO and NORAD commitments, with NORAD probably being the bigger one, which means we have significant security requirements that are Canada-U.S.,” said Pat Finn, the assistant deputy minister in charge of procurement at National Defence.“
Once again, as with the proposed Super Hornet deal, the Trudeau regime is trying to rig the game to allow it to wiggle out of its contradictory promises.
If, and it’s a big IF, there is a way around Canada-USA communications security requirements, which the US can, pretty much unilaterally make a lot more difficult whenever it chooses, then it would be more honest to say “we’re not going to buy a US aircraft until President Trump promises to lift the unfair, dishonest tariffs he levied against Canadian aluminium and steel” … more honest but not very diplomatic and not, very probably, in Canada’s best strategic interests. It is, in my view, equally undiplomatic to try to rig the bidding process so that the Europeans appear to have a leg up over the Americans ~ President Trump will notice that.
Between contradictory election promises and a fabricated capability gap, the Trudeau government, if that’s the right word, has screwed the pooch on this project but they have managed to kick the can down the road far enough. The first report says that “The federal government has nearly finalized its request for proposal for the new fighter jets. It is now waiting for industry feedback over the next six weeks before launching the formal competition next year.” A competition of this magnitude ($25+ Billion) and complexity will be ongoing into 2020, well past the expected 2019 election and, therefore, “off the table” as far as the media is concerned. That’s good politics for Team Trudeau but bad policy for Canada.