Participating in a panel on Power & Politics yesterday, Chris Alexander offered the following version of recent history on the F-35.
“There was a misunderstanding, to some extent, in the Canadian public opinion, to some extent perpetrated by the opposition who claimed that a decision had been made, contracts had been signed, obligations had been undertaken and that is not the case.”
This is a rather remarkable assertion.
Mr. Alexander is relatively new here—he was just elected last May—so perhaps he was unaware of what the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister were saying about the F-35 procurement through 2010 and early 2011. And perhaps he was so distracted with the adjustment to public office that he missed what Julian Fantino was saying last November. But here are a bunch of quotes to compare and contrast with Mr. Alexander’s understanding of the “misunderstanding” that concerned the F-35.
News release, July 16, 2010. The Government of Canada today announced it is acquiring the fifth generation Joint Strike Fighter F-35 aircraft to contribute to the modernization of the Canadian Forces, while bringing significant economic benefits and opportunities to regions across Canada.
Peter MacKay, September 15, 2010. “This is the right plane. This is the right number. This is the right aircraft for our Canadian forces and for Canada,” he said. ”If we don’t make this purchase there is a real danger we’ll be unable to defend our airspace, unable to exercise our sovereignty or unable to share our responsibility to both NORAD and NATO.”
Stephen Harper, November 3, 2010. “We are going to need to replace the aircraft at the end of this decade, and the party opposite knows that. But instead, for the sake of getting the anti-military vote on the left, with the NDP and the Bloc, the Liberals are playing this game. The mistake is theirs. It would be a mistake to rip up this contract for our men and women in uniform as well as the aerospace industry.”
Peter MacKay, December 13, 2010. “Mr. Speaker, let us look at the actual contract. What the Canadian government has committed to is a $9 billion contract for the acquisition of 65 fifth generation aircraft.”
Stephen Harper, January 14, 2011. “I do find it disappointing, I find it sad, that some in Parliament are backtracking on the F-35 and some are talking openly about cancelling the contract, should they get the chance,” Harper said at the Heroux-Devtek plant in Dorval.
Stephen Harper, January 14, 2011. “I need your help making MPs from this region and elsewhere in Canada listen to reason,” Mr. Harper told workers at Héroux-Devtec, which is manufacturing door and wing parts for the F-35. “Honestly, I can’t understand how a Liberal MP from the Montreal region would want to cancel this contract. It’s unbelievable.”
Stephen Harper, January 14, 2011. “Contracts like this are not a political game,” Harper said, speaking from a blue podium with government Action Plan slogans perched in front of him and behind him. ”It is about lives and, as you well know, it is about jobs.”
Peter MacKay, February 25, 2011. ”Many figures have been circulated on the cost,” the minister said in a speech Friday before the Conference of Defence Associations. ”Let me repeat it. $9 billion. I have no idea where these other figures are coming from. They’re simply made up — or they’re guessing. If this procurement is cancelled … so another competition can be held, it will cost taxpayers $1 billion and will create an operational gap for the air force in the future.”
Stephen Harper, March 10, 2011. Mr. Harper told reporters on Thursday that he refused to “get into a lengthy debate in numbers.” “This is the option that was selected some time ago, because it is the only option available,” he said. “…This is the only fighter available that serves the purposes that our air force needs.”
Stephen Harper, April 8, 2011. “You have to understand that in terms of the F-35 costs, we’ve been very detailed with those to the Canadian public,” Harper said after releasing the Conservative platform in Mississauga, Ont. ”A lot of the developmental costs you’re reading in the United States, the contract we’ve signed shelters us from any increase in those kinds of costs. We’re very confident of our cost estimates and we have built in some latitude, some contingency in any case. So we are very confident we are within those measures.”
Julian Fantino, November 9, 2011. “We will purchase the F-35,” Fantino asserted. “We’re on record. We’re part of the crusade. We’re not backing down.”
Julian Fantino, November 18, 2011. “There’s a plan A, there’s a plan B, there’s a plan C, there’s a plan Z and they’re all F-35s,” he said.