The $16-billion debate

The Liberals yesterday came forward with three questions they want answered about the proposed purchase of those F-35s.

1. What are the defence priorities and the domestic and foreign mission requirements that our new fighter jets must be able to support?

2. What are the roles, capabilities and operational performance requirements that any new fighter must be able to meet in order to support these future domestic and international priorities and missions?

3. What evidence does the government have to demonstrate that their deal gets the right equipment for our Air Force while achieving the following: The lowest cost and best value for taxpayer dollars, with controls to prevent cost escalation; and guaranteed regional benefits with a transfer of intellectual property to grow the Canadian aerospace industry, including in-service support?

By the end of the day, Industry Minister Tony Clement’s office had responded with the following.

“Today, Marc Garneau and the Ignatieff Liberal’s re-announced their plans to cancel the F-35 program and tear-up every job-creating contract that goes with it unless their smokescreen ultimatum is met.

“The fact is the questions the Liberals have put forward have already been answered by military and Canadian aerospace industry experts.  What aerospace workers in Canada need is a government committed to securing their jobs, not putting those jobs at risk with partisan antics.

“The Ignatieff Liberals have announced that they are “committed as a party” to putting tens of thousands of Canadian aerospace jobs in jeopardy; that they are “committed as a party” to ignoring what industry leaders themselves are saying is best for Canadian industry and workers; and they are “committed as a party” to shutting their eyes to the clear economic benefits of this program for reasons no more profound than their own petty politics. This further demonstrates that the Ignatieff Liberal’s are in it for themselves.

“Sadly, we’ve seen this all before.  When the Liberals scrapped the Sea King renewal contract in 1993 it cost taxpayers $500 million dollars for nothing, and then it took the Liberals 11 years to find a replacement.  Canadian industry, the Canadian military and Canadian taxpayers have already suffered more than enough due to Liberal short-sightedness.

“The Ignatieff Liberals need to understand that this purchase is for the benefit of the Canadian Forces, and industry.

“With the economic recovery still fragile, hard working men and women in Canada’s aerospace sector can rest assured that the Harper government is on their side.

The only question that needs to be answered is this: Why are the Ignatieff Liberals putting their own political interests ahead of the interests of the Canadian Forces and Canada’s aerospace industry?”

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