So Michael Byers had a piece in the Globe and Mail that seemed to confirm reports that the Pentagon had leaked a missive that the Canadian government was going to go ahead with the purchase of a mere four F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. There still has been no competition to replace the F-18 aircraft we currently deploy, and considerable fuss arose when the plan to buy a whole fleet of them came to light a few years back as it became clear the the Defense people weren’t being particularly candid about the cost of the program and about the notion that the aircraft itself is not particularly adapted to the ideal mission for Canada. On top of that, the whole program has run decades behind schedule and has run over its original budget by orders of magnitude. The problem with buying four of these beauties is that the JSF then is likely declared the winner of the competition that never happened and the standard for further procurement.
I recall distinctly the feeling I had in the pit of my stomach when I learned that the Chrétien government had signed a contract to acquire four British submarines back in the late ’90s.
There is much I love about Britain and the British, but their engineering and construction of mechanical devices has left a trail of broken hearts among all those who’ve experienced the joy of owning an MG, or a Triumph, or a Handley Page Halifax, and the Canadian experience with these vessels would seem to bear that out. The original price quoted by Chrétien & Co. was on the order of $750 m, but by the time any of them was declared fit for service, our own poor little exchequer had disbursed several times that, and we had lost lives when one of the things caught fire in Mid-Atlantic on the way to Canada. Our little dabbling with the JSF looks like a similar story, aside from the price tag running over $100 bn., and it seems hard to locate any discussion of this in the House, a phenomenon that would have demonstrated a modicum of consideration following all the previous upheaval over back room dealings and the desire of AirShow McKay to have his Mission Accomplished moment. Nope, a leak, sort of like our submarines.
Sadly, we have a government that won’t take no for an answer and that will trip around the back door or under the toilet seat togged what it want, even through chicanery and pure skulduggery.