I knew a few guys back in high school just like Defense Minister Peter McKay.
They didn’t have much going for them until one day when they showed up for school driving a shiny, new Camaro or some other muscle car.
We were envious of those lucky lads with the rich parents. Even if we saved our money and eventually bought pre-owned wheels of our own we never achieved the elevated status of those cool dudes with the late model cars. And just like Peter McKay, they got all the chicks too.
I thought those days were long gone but the more I find out about Peter McKay’s new F-35 fighter jets the more I recognize that same old scenario. This time around the stakes are a lot higher but even Peter’s boss, Prime Minister Steve, was defending this questionable program as he pounded his chest and issued a satisfied “Harrumph!” or two. The PM has since backed off.
But with the release of the Auditor General’s scathing report Canadians quickly discovered that the entire program had been mismanaged and misdirected.
After consistently mocking critics and calling them uninformed, Mr. Harper has finally accepted the criticism. Unfortunately, his and Mr. McKay’s response can be summed up with one word, “Oops.”
Based on the Auditor General’s report, Canadian military leaders really want to get their hands on the F-35 and so they skewed the entire process to eliminate the competition. Then they used low ball numbers and outright lies to mislead their political bosses who in turn misled cabinet, the House of Commons and the Canadian people.
Nobody knows how much these things will cost but it will be twice what the government told us or perhaps even more. The Canadian people, after years of the Harper experience, are accustomed to being kept in the dark. It’s sad but that’s not the worrisome part.
The F-35 is being developed for America and its allies to fly the dominant U.S. mission – delivering low-altitude death and destruction to distant, foreign countries with hot, desert climates. This is a first strike fighter-bomber designed to deliver “shock and awe” attacks. It is made to kill and destroy and is being promoted as the dominant force in aerial combat for the next 30 to 50 years.
Compare this with Canada’s dominant mission – high altitude patrols of our massive Arctic airspace and our Polar border with Russia.
Canada doesn’t need futuristic fighter jets. We need long-range high altitude interceptors that can chase Russian bombers back home. And as for that stealth technology, if we are trying to assert our sovereignty why would we want to be invisible?
The F-35 seems like more killing machine than Canada really needs but our Generals want it and they are prepared to lie to get it. This program has been criticized from every angle.
The acquisition process is seriously flawed. There were no competitive bids. Our requirements are not being met.
Canada’s seniors will have to work until age 67 to pay the bill. But even all that is not the most troubling part.
Technologically speaking, the F-35 Lightening II fighter jet is an impressive military machine with shock and awesome weaponry.
It comes equipped with a standard 25 mm canon and the weapons bay houses air-to-air and air-to-ground TV/laser guided missiles. This jet has a capacity for 18,000 pounds of ordinance including 2000-pound guided bombs and other smart munitions, cluster bombs and if necessary, a nuclear bomb.
Here’s what troubles me the most. Canadian pilots representing our country will be pulling the trigger to release this rain of death and destruction from above on a foreign land. There will be collateral damage. Innocent women and children will die. Entire families will be vaporized.
By considering these fighters Canada is saying that we are committed to this destructive military option for the next 30 to 50 years.
We aren’t even considering peaceful, non-aggressive, non-military solutions to global conflicts. But if we are too squeamish to have this discussion we will all be partly responsible for the consequences, whether we like it or not.
Even if they continue with the F-35 program the Harper government will be long gone before the first jet is delivered.
I doubt if the PM was one of those cool Camaro kids in high school and now it looks like he will also miss out being one of the cool world leaders with shiny, new jets.
Big toys for big boys.