Is the Liberal plan for an open competition for jet fighters to replace the aging CF-18 rigged before it even begins? I believe that the evidence suggests that it is. Read on.
Some background and much needed clarity:( because some seem to believe that the LPC will NOT be buying jets)
The Liberal plan is indeed to purchase new fighter jets to replace the CF-18. From Liberal.ca:
A future Liberal government will not proceed with the government acquisition process to purchase untendered F-35 stealth fighters, at a cost of $16 billion. Instead, Liberals will hold an open competition to replace Canada’s CF-18s based on clear and publicly disclosed foreign and defence policy requirements.
So in spite of all of the spin heard from the Liberals such as "vets not jets", “we choose families, not fighter jets,” "family care not fighter jets" the reality is that the Liberal Party of Canada intend to buy new jet fighters to replace the Cf-18.
So both the current government and the Liberals are planning to replace the Cf-18; the difference comes in that the Liberals are claiming that they would hold an open competition for the replacements and not necessarily go with the F-35. Michael Ignatieff: "a future Liberal government will cancel the F-35 stealth fighter deal and hold an open competition to replace Canada’s CF-18s."
While an open competition may sound like a good idea the current requirements from the Department of National Defence would disqualify every other possible aircraft in a competition other than F-35 because of its stealth abilities. (Kevin Page PBO report link PDF) "First and foremost, the proposed acquisition must satisfy the DND's Statement of Requirements. The PBO has been provided with and has reviewed the relevant Statement of Requirements. The F-35 is the only strike/fighter jet that can meet the specifications contained in this document as written." Even some Liberals agree that the F-35 is the only fighter for Canada.
But lets put the discussion on the need for a competition aside for a moment and look at what the Liberals claim will be the result of such a competition. They will save us money and they will take that money and apply it to other programs:
“If the government were to hold an open competition, they could guarantee the maximum number of jobs in the Canadian aerospace industry while saving limited government funds that would be better spent easing the economic strain on hard-pressed middle-class families.”
“Liberals would rather save money by opening the contract to competition, freeing up funds to support hundreds of thousands of Canadian families who are caring for sick or aging loved ones with our $1-billion Family Care Plan,” concluded Mr. LeBlanc.
Interesting. Even before the process is held, the Liberals already know that the competition will save money, but what happens if in that competition the F-35 IS chosen as the best plane for our needs? A very likely outcome if we want to purchase the best possible aircraft for our military.
At a MINIMUM it would cost us exactly the same amount as the Conservative replacement plan, but could very likely end up costing us much more due to all of the delays and us jumping into a program late into the game. Either way no money could possibly be saved by having a competition.
So I have to ask. How is it possible for the Liberals to be able to claim that they will save money on a replacement fighter jet program, going so far as to have already delegated those 'savings' to pay for other programs in their platform, before any competition has even taken place and of course not knowing which aircraft will be chosen?
The answer is simple. The competition has already been rigged and the F-35 has lost before the competition has even started.
Related: Here is what one Liberal MP had to say on the F-35. Tell me if you think she sounds the least bit interested in a fair and open competition to find the best plane for our military:
Alexandra Mendes: "Mr. Speaker, I will start by acknowledging that I do not think my hon. colleague is an expert on the matter. I will just say that there are a lot of other planes that our air force could use and should use. We do not need stealth airplanes. Canada is a peaceful country. We certainly do not need those kinds of planes."
Sorry Alexandra but I prefer to let the experts in our military decide what their needs are and not the Liberal Party who are more interested in buying votes with suspect spending schemes than they are in the well being of our military.
What the F-35 brings to the fight.