Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Monday July 19, 2010
Peter MacKay Rejects Criticism of F-35 Jet
Canada’s defense minister rejected suggestions on Friday that the F-35 fighter jet was unnecessarily sophisticated and costly for the country’s relatively small air force.
After confirming that Canada will spend about 9 billion Canadian dollars, or $8.7 billion, to buy 65 F-35s from Lockheed Martin and to cover deployment costs, Peter MacKay said that the Conservative government would not compromise on military equipment.
“This aircraft is the best that we can provide our men and women in uniform and this government is committed to giving them the very best,” Mr. MacKay told a news conference while standing in front of a full-size model of the fighter jet.
The announcement of a multibillion-dollar commitment by the Canadian government should bolster a program that has been plagued with delays and substantial price increases.
Even before the announcement, the purchase had become the source of political controversy. Aside from its cost, which may reach 16 billion Canadian dollars once maintenance and parts contracts are signed, opposition politicians are angry about the lack of a competitive tender process.
On Thursday, the Liberal Party said that it would oppose the purchase. An alliance of opposition parties could stall or block the deal.
“I’m not suggesting that this may not be the best fighter aircraft for the Canadian forces,” said Ujjal Dosanjh, a Liberal member of Parliament responsible for military issues. “But we don’t know that without going through a process.” (The New York Times)