Lee Berthiaume of the Canadian Press, in an article published in the National Post, writes that “Canada’s long-running effort to buy new fighter jets is facing another delay … [because] … The federal government announced Tuesday it is giving jet makers another three months to submit their proposals for replacing Canada’s aging CF-18s. Companies were to have submitted their bids at the end of March but will now have until June.”
Procurement Minister Anita Anand said in a statement that “Canada is planning to buy 88 new fighters to replace the CF-18s, which are now nearly 40 years old … [and she claimed that] … “The government set out an aggressive timeline to implement this very complex, high-value procurement … [which is arrant nonsense because they were elected in 2015, having promised an open, fair competition, and didn’t even call for bids until very late in 2018, but she claimed] … While we understand the importance of this procurement for our women and men in uniform, our focus is on moving the process forward as quickly as we can, while ensuring that all bidders have the time they need to put forward their best proposal.”” The truth, of course, is that the Trudeau Liberals have nothing but contempt for Canada’s “men and women in uniform,” and the focus of their efforts is to defer another difficult problem until Parliament takes its summer break.
Mr Berthiaume says that “The government did not say why the three companies need extra time to prepare good bids …[and he reminds us that] … Three planes are in the running to replace the CF-18s: Lockheed Martin’s F-35, Boeing’s Super Hornet and Saab’s Gripen.“
I repeat that I do not know which aeroplane is “best” for Canada, I don’t even know if any of the three is not good. I suspect that the Royal Canadian Air Force can get good results with any of the three aircraft in the competition. I know that many of our allies have chosen the F-35 Lightning II, presumably at least some of them evaluated other aircraft, too, and I understand that the F-35 is designed to play a role in ballistic missile defence which, in my considered opinion, ought to be a must for Canada.
Parliament will rise in late June for its summer recess, I expect the Liberal to use the time between now and then to find another excuse for inaction on this vital question. Back in 2015, in the Liberal campaign, Justin Trudeau made a silly promise …
… now, five years later, the government is trying to figure out how to square that particular circle. Does anyone really think that either Justin Trudeau or Chrystia Freeland cares even one tiny whit about which fighter jet Canada needs? Does anyone think Harjit Sajjan or Anita Anand understand the file? It should have been clear in 2015 why Minister Sajjan, a Vancouver police detective who was also a reserve force lieutenant colonel, was chosen for his post rather than Andrew Leslie who had just retired, as a lieutenant general, after commanding the Canadian Army: the Trudeau Liberals didn’t want a defence minister who might actually know and care about national defence … not when they had a photogenic token who could stand-in. Justin Trudeau was, and remains, always and only about image. There was never any substance and there was no room for substantial people who might have insights into complex, strategic issues.
I have confidence in the officials who will, sometime, present a recommendation to cabinet that will says something like, ‘on balance, this is the best choice for a new fighter.’ I have less confidence in what the cabinet will do with that recommendation.
If we do not “buy American” ~ the fourth-generation Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet of the modern, fifth-generation Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II ~ then President Trump may decide to punish us. Sweden, indeed all of Europe, does not have the same leverage and, thanks in part to Boeing‘s efforts, Europe (Airbus) already has Bombardier’s passenger jet business and will likely move all the A200 series production from Québec to Alabama, anyway. I’m not sure that the procurement department officials will make that point, but ministers will be briefed by their own deputies
So, Anita Anand has bought a bit more time for Team Trudeau to dither. In the end, after more delays, they will make a choice. It may be partially informed by expert opinion but it is more likely to be based on a careful calculation of domestic, partisan political advantage. This delay is unnecessary ~ I am 99.9% certain that all three of Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Saab are ready, now, to make firm and final offers ~ and it will, without a doubt add to the price in the end, dealy always does.