The Commons: What alien hordes may come

Can we really be content to spend only $16-billion on fighter jets?


The Scene. With the opposition persisting for another day to question the allocation of some $16-billion for new warplanes, it was Laurie Hawn, a former air force colonel himself, who rose to impress upon the House a most profound question—perhaps the single most daunting dilemma that faces this or any government.

Earlier in the day, the Finance Minister had invited himself in for coffee and cookies at the house of some nice suburban family to demonstrate that, from here on, his government was done spending taxpayer dollars recklessly (or words to that effect). That next year’s budget, unlike previous attempts, would be prudent and responsible.

At this, the opposition was easily puzzled. “This government continues to spend billions of dollars on wasteful purchases for fake lakes, untendered stealth fighter jets and Republican-style prisons that Canadians are convinced we do not really need,” moaned Liberal Bryon Wilfert. “How is putting $16 billion, and counting, at risk for the purchase of untendered stealth fighter jets, using the minister’s own words: ‘practical, pragmatic and moderate?’ Is he serious?”

Here then came Mr. Hawn, moved to lay bare the existential crisis at the heart of good governance. “Mr. Speaker, what we are very serious about is giving the Canadian men and women who carry out the very difficult missions on behalf of the people of Canada and others the very best equipment to do the job tomorrow and for the next 20, 30 and 40 years,” he said. “We do not know what is coming in the next 20, 30 or 40 years and neither does the member opposite.”

Indeed. Here is what every government must confront in directing its citizens forward. We do not know what may come, we cannot know what may come, but we must prepare for it all the same. We must make our best guesses and act decisively, but ultimately we can only imagine. And so we must push ourselves to consider every possibility, prepare ourselves for every eventuality and dream impossible dreams of every potential doom.

To understand why we might need $16-billion-worth of new fighter jets then, think not simply of Russians or exploding printer cartridges, but cast your mind even further forward to the threats of the future—to the time of 2050 and perhaps the most dire possibility of all: the looming spectre of alien invasion.

Astronomers will argue that the real threat is asteroids, that what we must pursue is a way to blast space rocks out of our way, lest they make contact with Earth and extinguish all life on this planet. But what those ivory tower elitists miss is what Hollywood’s most responsible producers have been warning us about for decades: that ultimately, inevitably, we will have to confront an incursion from an extraterrestrial species that seeks our total destruction (or at least our subservience). That threat, as Mr. Hawn wisely hinted this afternoon, is what must guide our present action. And only on that basis must we ask questions about this government’s commitment to the joint strike fighter program.

For instance, how well would these new F-35s be expected to confront large alien spaceships? Based on Hollywood’s projections, most 20th century technology was powerless to repel alien hordes. Will our F-35s be equipped with lasers of some kind? Will they be able to penetrate alien forcefields? Will we have a sufficient number of aircraft to defend ourselves against anything as large and powerful as the ships the aliens used in Independence Day?

Indeed, given the potential depth and breadth of such a threat, can we really be content to spend only $16-billion? Or should we, in this era of prudent federal spending, look for more efficient, cost-effective solutions? Remember here that the space invaders in Independence Day were ultimately defeated by a combination of computer programming, strategically employed nuclear weapons and character actor Jeff Goldblum. By that logic it may be futile to engage in an arms race with the alien armies: that our money, energy and time would be better spent devising a way to build forcefields of our own around major cities and institutions so as to defend our primary targets in the first moments of an invasion.

Obviously some degree of coordination with NATO and the international community will be necessary, but selfishly we can take heart in the recent defection to our side of Randy Quaid, who, as loving-father Russell Casse in Independence Day, selflessly flew his fighter jet into an alien spaceship to bring about its destruction. There’s no telling what degree of insight and expertise he can thus provide.

Regardless what we have here, hopefully in time to sufficiently prepare ourselves, is a necessary call for foresight and perspective. By comparison, when Liberal deputy leader Ralph Goodale lamented a government that had recklessly wasted this country’s fiscal situation on pre-recession spending, international summitry, advertising and jails, all government House leader John Baird could muster was a claim to have also created jobs.

For sure, a job is a lovely thing to have. But whether or not one is presently employed will be altogether moot if we are all inevitably to be enslaved or annihilated by the alien hordes. Let us hope this government plans its next budget accordingly.

The Stats. Government spending, nine questions. Afghanistan, five questions. The military and the environment, four questions each. Aboriginal affairs, three questions. Infrastructure, energy, trade, food safety and Haiti, two questions each. Taxation, arts funding, air safety, the economy and children, one question each.

John Baird, eight answers. Ted Menzies, five answers. Laurie Hawn, four answers. John Duncan, three answers. Chuck Strahl, Denis Lebel, Dave Anderson, Dave MacKenzie, Peter Kent, Peter Van Loan, Gerry Ritz and Bev Oda, two answers each. Stockwell Day, Dean Del Mastro, Rob Merrifield and Ed Komarnicki, one answer each.


The Commons: What alien hordes may come

  1. With your tongue in cheek and your head elsewhere you have penned the epitath of the "carbon is poison" crowd Wherry. Your fanciful sarcasm is a perfect analogue to the greenistas trying to destroy our country based of speculative garbage and bad science. Thanks for the memories.

  2. The Stats. Government spending, nine questions. Afghanistan, five questions. The military and the environment, four questions each. Aboriginal affairs, three questions. Infrastructure, energy, trade, food safety and Haiti, two questions each. Taxation, arts funding, air safety, the economy and children, one question each.

    Surely, this is a typo. No R&D questions?

  3. Speaking of Randy Quaid – he's on 22 Minutes tomorrow night.

  4. This is a cringe too far, young man.

  5. And so we must push ourselves to consider every possibility, prepare ourselves for every eventuality and dream impossible dreams of every potential doom.

    Yes, but we must not have mandatory census data for that. We must use fake data, fished from the fake lake.

  6. Did you know that ghost really exist? I'm not lying, it's true.

    You see sometimes when the body dies the spirit does not cross over so they kind of get stuck between here and the other side. For some reason there is a whole lot of humans who do not know this or are too scared to entertain the idea, I'm thinking you are one of them.

  7. "that ultimately, inevitably, we will have to confront an incursion from an extraterrestrial species that seeks our total destruction (or at least our subservience)"

    The Reptilians must be stopped. By the way, anyone ever see the way the Harper walks or waddles I guess. I swear if a reptile were to walk upright they would walk like Stephen Harper, consider this, we may already be confronting an incursion from an extraterrestrial species!

  8. Satire ain't your forte.

  9. LOL fighterplanes wouldn't hold off Russians, much less aliens.

    So unless we have that old Avro Arrow flying saucer hanging around somewhere that we can dust off……

    Yeah, we have to project into the future….against an 'unknown threat'…..which sounds remarkably like WWII

    These people aren't heavy thinkers.

  10. Wherry's right. We need to fear the coming Lib-Dip-Bloc-Alien coalition.

  11. Really, you don't need to invent new words (epitath?) to make your point.

  12. No need to buy those shocking and awsome jet fighters, just beam up a picture of our glorious teflon-coated Defence Minister sitting in an F-35 and those dastardly aliens will teleport themselves right out of our galaxy.

  13. This is definitely one of the worst of an old grey mares attempts to look young and hip via blogs and such…

    Think about a 76 y/o man attempting to lip a board at the skate park and this missive slots in nicely with that image….

    Call it a snow day and try again tomorrow Wherry…

  14. Carbon is a poison in both it's mono and di-oxide forms. Do you guys deny that, too?

  15. Great, now may be the Pirate nightmares will cease…….

  16. Ha ha, Wherry, real funny. We'll see who's laughing when the only one standing up for Canada, and for humanity, against the aliens will be Stephen Harper. Will he have kick-ass F-35s? I hope so… because he's not going to be able to fend off the aliens with all the naiveté and good intentions of the weak-kneed, lilly-livered lefties.

  17. Once we spend 16b$ on the airforce, what will we not be able to afford? Are we then calculating that the land and sea forces can be ignored? Or do we continue to rent [helicopters] infrastructure?

  18. While accurate naming may not be yours, either.

  19. I hear he's a switch hitter.

    I mean, he can handle Russians and Aliens.

    Err…*pulls collar*

  20. Ummmmm? What the….

    Okay, I consider myself pretty good natured. Like, Feshuk (sp!) is the first column I read every week, and there is no question that he is good at what he does.

    But what in the world is this? So a government minister refers to the fact that whatever planes we buy with military dollars will most likely be the ones that we use for the next 40 years, and Wherry somehow finds this worthy to mock by imagining that the minister "hinted" at alien forces coming to kill us?

    I've only been reading Wherry for a couple of months now, but I am almost convinced that I want to write Maclean's and complain. Does my opinion matter to them at all? If I get enough signatures will they can this guy? I mean at least Feshuk (sp?) slings his satire both ways, and know I do not mean to imply that what Wherry wrote above should be thought of as satire.

    Anyway, anyone else out there want to join me in calling for his termination? I just want to know if I'm all alone out here or if more of us feel the way I do. I mean, come on!


  21. Fire Wherry?

    Absolutely not.

    I may disaggree with what he has to say, but I'll defend to the death his right to say it. Tacit censureship should never be condoned.

    And from a purely partisan standpoint, shining the light of day on such obvious leftleaning bias, is a far, far more potent tonic, than demanding he be silenced.

    Let the free market of ideas judge this post.

  22. It's probably not a canning offence, but this was one lame-a$$ post by Wherry.

  23. . . . for the lame drivel that it is.

  24. Nice try

  25. Yeah, how dare he have an opinion! Fire him!

  26. No, a "nice" try would at least be functionally literate.

  27. I think Mr. Hawn's answer is the most honest yet. And though it might be a largely wasted $16 billion, we find out, in 2050, who knows. Aliens as premise makes more an unintended self-mockery by Wherry. Unfortunate entry.

  28. Based on Hollywood's projections, most 20th century technology was powerless to repel alien hordes.

    Hollywood also projects the F35 is prone to engine failure:
    [youtube qJABsJQCZHA&feature=related youtube]

    Why willl force our brave pilots to eject over the arctic. Why????

  29. Fair enough…I can see how what I wrote implied that I simply wanted Wherry gone because he was unabashedly anti this Conservative government…

    No, that is certainly not what I would ever want. It's just that this post was so bad. So…very…very very….very bad. And look, Wherry can say what he wants to say, he can have a hundred blogs and write all day long to his little heart's content for all I care, it's just that I thought Maclean's, as a magazine, and presumably website, that purports to be journalistically fair, would be above this kind of thing that I used to only expect to find at….but, I'm using a lot of comma splices so perhaps I should just call it a night.

    But in closing, you have convinced me. Of course, if Wherry is for some unimaginable reason the best person for "covering the Commons", then let him have it, but I just wonder, where is the raging pro-Conservative writer for the Maclean's website, just so I can also read articles from the other side that do not even pretend or attempt to be fair?

  30. Don't think "honest" is the right characterization.

    I'll grant that Hawn has suggested a more reasonable, thoughtful, even accurate rationale for the prospective F35 purchase. However, if this was a truly honest answer and the true reason for the purchase, then I would have expected Hawn's rationale to have been offered up by the government two months ago. Instead, after multiple failed attempts to justify the deal, the government seems to have come up with the new story by reading the op-eds of retired generals and OC columnists.

    Not honest. Not by a long shot

  31. Unless… alien pirates… teaming up with the separatists and the socialists… it's all starting to make sense now…

    God help us all.

  32. Mr. Wherry

    There was a time when people tolerated your biased look at "the commons" because they enjoyed the colour you brought to the otherwise dry proceedings. As your so-called style as developed, you have moved from colourful description to emotional interpretation of the dialog, and now, finally, to wild speculation about any and all comers to the house of commons. It seems to me you would prefer to blog about the inane jokes made by your peers in the press gallery rather than report on the proceedings.

    I do not suppose integrity means anything to you, since judging by the quality of your analysis, you clearly place no value in it. Do as all a favour, and limit your blog posts to your "stats" segment. It is the only portion of what you write which approaches usefulness.

  33. I don't know that this column is grounds for firing.

    I like the idea of the daily Commons wrap-up, but having a Liberal partisan writing it is problematic. One need look no further than the comments on these posts to see how irrelevant and meaningless the discussion is. It's sad, really, because there's a lot of potential here.

  34. Good grief…it's 16 billion, including parts and training, for a platform that is expected to fly from 2017 to 2050. THAT'S OVER 30 YEARS.

    That breaks down to less than 500 million a year, out of a current 21 billion dollar budget. By 2040 the military will be spending more money on photocopying than on these fighters.

  35. I'm with you. This is just plain rubbish and disrespectful to the Canadian Forces.

  36. Exactly. I've got no problem with Wherry spewing his Liberal talking points, it's just that it would be nice to have a non-partisan covering parliament. Let Wherry do editorial cartoons, or chase down Conservative MPs who's socks don't match, or whatever pressing issue he feels like.

  37. “We do not know what is coming in the next 20, 30 or 40 years and neither does the member opposite.”

    So, we're preparing for things we can't possibly imagine?

  38. Agreed. I used to love this column, it was witty, funny, and informative. But you're exactly right that as it's aged, it's basically become a sounding board for Liberal talking points.

  39. No, I refuse to prepare for a Liberal government.

  40. Sorry, thumb-monkeys….WWII and the Cold War are over, so stop trying to waste more money on ancient history. LOL

  41. The Conservative's are obviously just continuing in the tradition of previous Liberal governments:

    Former federal defence minister Paul Hellyer, 86, believes not only that aliens have visited Earth but also that they have contributed greatly to human technological advances. <a href="http:// (” target=”_blank”> <a href="http://(” target=”_blank”>(

    I would be interested to know how much alien tech the Liberals acquired for these F35s.

  42. Only in Canaduh would the government have to 'justify' spending on national defence. If Botswana or Peru were buying F-35's, there would be national days of pride and celebration. In the First world, countries will buy them because it's the only rational and mature thing to do. It's only in this 'country' that a government has to justify defence purchases. Meanwhile, apparently money is no object in paying off…errrr….supporting native 'politicians'.

  43. Has Steyn not been around for awhile? Maybe you can re-read some of his older postings, then.

  44. Well, hurray for Canada! Good for us in having our government justify what it spends our money on! What a novel concept–maybe we can export the idea to other nations.

  45. I have to agree with other posters that this was not your finest post.

    But, you did put your finger on the thing we should really be paying attention to. You know, the forcefield around the country. Harper will like it–didn't he want one around Alberta several years ago? It has the benefit of being useful as protection against both the Russians AND the aliens–and I suspect it could protect us, at least somewhat, from climate change as well!

    Yes, I definitely think the forcefield idea is the way to go.

  46. Mr Wherry, sometimes one thinks you are improving, and then one reads this nonsense. Tell us, do you ever reread your stuff before hitting the "send" button?

  47. Yikes. Tough crowd here. But yeah – definitely not gonna make the highlight reel.

  48. Great article! There is no realistic threat to Canada, now or in the foreseeable future, so we certainly don't need the most expensive fighters money can buy. Let the Americans continue to waste money on weapons and warfare, I'd rather do something constructive with our tax dollars.

  49. Oh oh oh there's a Cornelius Ryan joke there but I'll be damned if it's not coming to me fast enough…….

  50. WWBPD……

    What Would Bill Pullman Do

  51. For me, the biggest concern about the brand-new fighter jets is their expense. We are supposedly living in a time of austerity, and it is an undisputable fact that Canada is putting up very large deficits. If the Conservatives insist on buying these jets, then one of two things will happen:

    – The Conservatives will cut social spending to pay for the new jets (and the new prisons).

    – The Conservatives will ignore the deficit and debt for political reasons.

    Neither of these outcomes seem desirable to me – especially given that the need for F-35s has not been clearly demonstrated, and given that the plane itself is not guaranteed to (a) remain at this price; (b) work.

  52. Could we not just build a fence to keep the aliens out?

  53. So, we're preparing for things we can't possibly imagine?

    Hypothetical chatter may say that the unreported criminals are planning something with unknown foreign powers that may or may not be enemies (but in a friendly way.) So obviously we have to pay full sticker price for stealth fighter-bombers that may or may not be required for the future that may or may not come.

    Sarcasm aside, this is an issue that requires serious debat… OMG RUSSIANS!!!!!

  54. Uh, yeah, this post was an unfortunate stretch that went beyond any desirable limit of responsible commentary. A responsible government MUST anticipate the future as best as possible. Rumsfeld got bales of ill-informed mockery for all his troubles in elucidating "known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns," but that is just the sort of best-guessing one would hope all the right smart people are doing.

    These F-35s may or may not end up being exactly what we need. Given how the world unfolds, they probably won't match our requirements perfectly. Nothing we can dream up today could possibly achieve that. But it is ludicrous and dangerous to suggest that we therefore require nothing.

    Get back in the saddle and try again today, Aaron.

  55. I am all for it! Now let's open up the books on the real cost of Immigration, Indian Affairs, and bilingualism…..

    suddenly the room goes silent…

  56. He'd have my vote… fictional or not.

  57. Steyn is obviously a conservative but he rarely covers Canadian politics. He usually mentions it only in passing, even when writing in Macleans, so he is nowhere near as partisan as Wherry is, whose column is a daily assault on the Conservatives, whether they deserve it that day or not.

    I agree with sourstud. Wherry is a talented enough writer that there should be a place for him somewhere here. When he drops the rabble personna and makes an honest effort at it his writing is as good as anybody here (I mean lets face it; to write basically the same thing every day but still make it interesting takes no small degree of talent), but if Macleans takes Parliament seriously it would behoove them to have a less partisan columnist doing the role of covering the Commons. Or if not, at least hire a partisan from the other side to present an alternative viewpoint. Maybe like the Globe does with Silver-Powers?

  58. Absolutely. Although, interesting examples you come up with.

    Could it be that as far as you are concerned, if you aren't an english speaking white man, taxes don't deserve to be spent on you? Just asking, because neither one of us knows the costs of those programs–or the costs of not having those programs.

  59. A responsible government MUST anticipate the future as best as possible.

    I would prefer my responsible government to anticipate the future by spending money on research and development, education, and climate change (including on green technologies, which appear to be the wave of the future). I think that this is a better use of funds than spending it on protecting against a hypothetical enemy invasion, whether it be from this planet or some other one.

  60. You see a big photocopying budget in 2040? You don't think we might be beyond photocopiers at that point?

  61. You know, I have to say, I think 65 F-35s may actually make more sense as a mechanism for defending us from aliens than they do as a mechanism for defending us from the Russians. With the Russians, I KNOW that 65 F-35s could be swept aside by basically 10% of their air force. At least with the aliens, since I have no idea what their capabilities are, it's possible to imagine that we could actually stop them with 65 F-35s. But if we ever really get in to it with the Russians, that won't make them bat an eye.

  62. Where exactly did you read "justify spending on national defence" in what I wrote?

    I wrote justify the deal. The issue is the non-competitive, sole-sourced deal and whether the F-35 is the best choice. I don't hear anyone – save perhaps the NDP – questioning defence spending in general.

  63. This one's an instant classic. A gonzo Independence Day segueway mocking a former air force colonel MP who said: “We do not know what is coming in the next 20, 30 or 40 years and neither does the member opposite.”

    Because we all know defence spending is inherently ridiculous, right?

  64. The "other planet" business was only in the mind of Wherry, you realize…?

  65. You do understand that we aren't scheduled to pay for them until 2015, at which point, according to the Parliamentary Budget officer we will have a deficiet less than 0.01% of GDP. If the government maintains spending increases at 2% over the next 4 years we will be in surplus by 2015.
    The need for the F-35 is the same need that has been demonstrated for 30 years with the CF-18, defending Canadian airspace, and supporting NORAD and NATO.
    Your right about the price, it is actually possible that the price will go down because we are buying them at the the lowest production cost over the time we take possesion. So if the retail price is $75 million in 2015 and $70 million in 2020 we pay the $70
    Also, we get a royalty for every plane sold outside the intial countries who supported the development.

    Btw, you may want to check your dictionary for undisputable. Fact: Canada has a deficit. Opinion: it is a very large deficit.

  66. Defence spending is inherently ridiculous if no one has articulated just exactly what we are defending ourselves from, and how exactly that spending is going to create the required defence capability.

  67. Wow…someone obviously failed their creative writing classes.

    I would stick with your typical style of posts, fear and loathing.

    This attempt at humor is about as funny as C-3P0 in a sandcrawler.

  68. Think Maginot Line…

  69. The Longest Pun…

  70. Still, the point is nonetheless valid that it's ludicrous to try to justify buying 65 F-35s based on any sort of hypothetical existential threat to the territorial integrity of Canada.

    As I said below, arguing that we need 65 F-35s to protect us from aliens actually makes MORE sense than arguing that we need them to protect us from the Russians. As the aliens are hypothetical, I can imagine a scenario where we could fight them off with 65 F-35s, because I have no idea what the hypothetical aliens' hypothetical combat capabilities are. Whereas, with the Russians, I know for a fact that just 10% of their Air Force could sweep aside 65 F-35s pretty easily.

  71. This was funny, until it occurred to me that the Harperites probably want the planes so they can take part in Armageddon. Look at Harper's good buddy Charles McVety and the type of beliefs Harper probably shares:

    "…Reverend John Hagee. He is a prominent Texas televangelist and author of Jerusalem Countdown, a book predicting that the world will soon end in Armageddon. Hagee was guest speaker at an Israel support rally that McVety organized at his college in Toronto. At about the same time McVety also appeared on television news to say that that the fighting in Lebanon created conditions that resembled end times as predicted in the Bible. (The belief in end times is common among Christian reconstructionists)…"

    Remember that Harper considered the civilians being killed in Lebanon as acceptable casualties.

  72. Because we all know defence spending is inherently ridiculous, right?

    Yes it is, but we live in a ridiculous world. It is so ridiculous that when it comes right down to it we are actually buying these not to defend against our enemies attacking us but from our friend helping us.

  73. He'd have my fictional vote, too.

  74. Watch the skies!

  75. The problem is that if you buy a bunch of weapons, some idiots just can't resist the urge to use them somewhere. Look at all the idiotic wars the Americans get involved in.

  76. Oh my goodness…did you really just say that? Wait, let me double check……yep, you did really just say that.

  77. Why does Wherry hate the troops? Hates 'em!

  78. Define "termination" please!

  79. Nice to see the critics focusing on typos rather than ideas…what else have they got? Oh, self righteousness borne of indoctrination and epitaPHs which read: Lived well for a short time, died broke, betrayed and cold, because he sold his birthright to globalist plutocrats and scammers.

  80. And as you have very adroitly proved, the right is completely without its sense of humour.

    Rather than trade in well-worn, I-hate-lefty generalities (I'm surprised I didn't read the word ‘Toronto elite' anywhere in your turgid rebuff), why not smile and acknowledge that contemporary Canadian politics is all for show and we're not in the mood to play along? I'm sure you're not such a dour conspiracy-theorist in real life.

  81. Depends on how willing the aliens are in sharing their technology…

  82. I guess this needs to be explained…again…because it is apparently a difficult concept for some (read: liberals) to grasp. The F-35 is the RESULT of a competitive, multi-sourced process. Boeing and Lockheed Martin were given money (by the Liberals in Canada) to develop a prototype multi-role fighter to replace the F-16, the F-18 and the harrier jump jet – and LM won. There is no equivalent fighter being developed in the western world, and we are not going to buy fighters from Russia or China (and they wouldn't sell them to us if we were interested anyways)….

    And if you say 'Eurofighter' or Super Hornet, I am gonna scream.

  83. Here I thought Russia was just a beaten down semi-failed nation state, filled with drunkards and criminals. Turns out they're more wiley than a cartoon coyote…or at least creatures capable of transporting themselves between galaxies.

  84. I, for one, am hoping that the aliens do come. Perhaps, over time, they can breed out the Canadian pinko, liberal, socialist, moron gene.

  85. The fact is: shortage of resources causes conflict. We never know what kind of government China and Russia will have in the future. We know that we have a lot of resources. Resources that other countries will want. We have to protect our borders or we will loose them. Russia is already testing us.

    Global warming changes everything! The north will change dramatically. It will make the north more desireable that previously. Resources abound.

    The fighters will provide a deterrent. Should they have been subject to bids? Yes!

  86. Like manage poverty – with more prisons?

  87. You do get that our 65 would not be alone up there, right, LKO?

  88. Pinko…. moron….
    I wonder. Is it the inbreeding that has made you such a NiceGuy?

  89. 'Conservatives will cut social spending'….

    I wish!!!!!

  90. Hi. You're a moron. However, I do appreciate your honesty. Most boring, left-wing boobs in this country pay lip service to the idea of national defence…all that 'support the troops' hullabub (even though everyone knows they don't mean it). You sir, are at least intellectually honest in your stupidity.

    PS you're a moron.

  91. And yet you're quite happy to live under the umbrella of the defence those American weapons provide.

    Enjoy your freedom today, somebody else paid for it.

  92. Absolutely, but that's yet ANOTHER reason why justifying so few F-35s for the purposes of territorial defence is inane. We can't stop anyone who'd seriously attempt to invade us with only 65 Lightening IIs, and more to the point, no one would seriously try to invade us because they'd need to get through the swarms of American fighters to do so. The "territorial defence of Canada" argument for the F-35 is thus DOUBLY stupid. It's not just that we CAN'T stop the Russians with this force, it's also that we'll NEVER EVEN HAVE TO TRY!

  93. Well, it's true that it's unlikely that the aliens are less combat capable than the Russians if they're capable of interstellar travel, but it's at least POSSIBLE that they are. My point is just that I view our ability to fight off an alien invasion with 65 F-35s as a theoretical possibility, whereas I'm pretty sure that fighting off an attempted RUSSIAN invasion with such a force would be a metaphysical impossibility.

    I have no idea what the aliens could throw at us, but I do know that the Russians could leave 90% of their fighters at home and still outnumber our F-35s at least 3 to 1, attacking us with about 55 MiG-29s supported by 40 Su-27s, 40 MiG-31s and another 30 or so assorted fighters. I don't know if we can beat the aliens with 65 F-35s, but I'm pretty sure we can't beat that.

  94. The fighters will provide a deterrent.

    Really? Against the Russians?

    The Russians will be deterred from attempting to invade Canada and take our resources by the American Air Force and the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Our 65 F-35s will provide no real additional deterrent worthy of note. F-35s are great and all, but even with a force of 65 F35s our CF fighters could be outnumbered by Russian fighters 25 to 1. Three squadrons of F35s may be great, but they offer no real deterrent when measured against a dozen squadrons of Su-27s or MiG-29s.

  95. Ah. We'll never even have to try. So you're comfortable with the notion of hiding under Uncle Sam's skirt (ooh, bad visual…) for free? Assume no responsibility whatsoever for our contribution to continental defence? We're going with that, now, even more explicitly than the almost-free ride just about every NATO partner not named USA has enjoyed for decades?

  96. No, not at all, I just think that "contributing to continental defence" is an entirely different argument than "defending the territorial sovereignty of Canada", and it's the latter argument that the government is focused on.

    I'm not saying "buying 65 F-35s is stupid" (though it might be) I'm saying that justifying the decision to purchase 65 F-35s with references to Russian (near) incursions into Canadian territory if ludicrous. You're now arguing that we need to get F-35s to keep the Americans happy, and to demonstrate our capabilities for independence of action, and that's an entirely valid argument, but it's a DIFFERENT argument from the one being put forward vis a vis the Russians. If "contributing to continental defence" is the main argument for the F-35s that's bad, because it's a much WEAKER argument than many others. We could contribute just fine to continental defence with a whole host of planes other than the F-35. Some might argue that certain fighters are actually much BETTER suited for the defence of our territorial integrity than the F-35 is. The most convincing arguments in favour of procuring the F-35, imho, have almost nothing to do with protecting our sovereignty and it frustrates me when people focus on the weaker arguments and ignore the stronger ones.

  97. So, you think that DND has no obligation whatsoever to taxpayers to explain what our defence priorities are, and how our defence spending will help us to achieve those priorities??? We should just close our eyes, hand over any amount of money requested, for any purpose, and trust the troops?

    If it's too much to ask for an assessment of our priorities, and an analysis of how a piece of equipment meets the requirements of those priorities, why do we even bother asking what they're buying at all? Why wasn't the announcement simply "We're spending $16 billion on some equipment that will help us do stuff"?

  98. Well, that's maybe where we'll get all nit-picky about the semantics of "defending Canadian sovereignty." So we probably agree more than we (used just moments ago to) think.

    I submit we "defend our sovereignty" when we join a UN-sponsored mission to drop bombs in the Balkans, or when we shove a ruthless bully back out of Kuwait. The military will tell you there is no such thing as home-field advantage in their line of work.

    But we also CERTAINLY defend our sovereignty when we choose willingly to join our neighbour, our best friend and our most important ally in the shared defence of our neighbourhood. So I just don't think you can separate your two "entirely different" arguments they way you try to.

  99. How is my freedom enhanced by the Americans bombing weddings in Iraq? I never wanted the fools to start that war.

  100. Our problem will be keeping the Americans away from our resources.

  101. What about the Eurofighter and the Super Hornet?

  102. I agree with pretty much all of that. There are certainly ways in which our ability to project power abroad is an element of "protecting our sovereignty", and certainly our participation in NORAD, and our defence agreements with the Americans generally are aspects of defending our sovereignty in conjunction with an ally. However, my original point was that "it's ludicrous to try to justify buying 65 F-35s based on any sort of hypothetical existential threat to the territorial integrity of Canada" and when the government's been talking about sovereignty on this file, it's been pretty clear that the message they've been offering is "if we don't get F-35s, the Russians will be flying bombers over Churchill, Manitoba", which is patently absurd. I maintain that no one on the government side is really selling the F-35 on the merits of it's suitability for the missions it's actually suitable for, and for which we're most likely to use it; they're selling the F-35 on it's suitability for the types of missions they think Canadians will support (i.e. defending our airspace) and in that context the F-35 doesn't make nearly as much sense.

    That our ability to project power abroad makes us safer at home might be a good argument in favour of the F-35. That we need to suck it up and buy a plane that everyone's wasted a lot of money on all ready, and that we can't just back out now and leave our allies holding the bag for a defence program that's come under pretty serious fire in the U.S. and throughout NATO is even a pretty good argument for buying the F-35. It's this idea of the F-35 as some sort of "deterrent" against encroachments against our territorial sovereignty that I wish would die. Nobody's re-considering messing with Canada because we're going to have 65 F-35s at our disposal. The only people who COULD mess with us in that sense won't be put off in the slightest by the addition of three squadrons of fighters to the NORAD mix, and nobody else could do any more damage to us than they can now if we scrapped the F-35 deal and just bought hundreds and hundreds of Cessnas and mounted machine guns on them.

    If someone wants to argue that the Americans would pull out of NORAD if we decided to buy 120 Super Hornets instead of 65 F-35s I'll listen to that argument, but it doesn't make a lick of sense to me that they would. If someone wants to argue that we need the more advanced F-35s for missions like Afghanistan (close air support for troops), I think that's a pretty good argument for the F-35. The arguments the government is focusing on however are mostly either scenarios in which any number of fighters would be as good in the role as the F-35, and scenarios in which a number of other choices would arguably be much better.

    Maybe next time we could do something radical, like having these sorts of public discussions BEFORE announcing our commitment to a multi-billion dollar expenditure.

  103. Scream.

  104. Like spending on 'gay rights parades' and 'jazz festivals'? Which are usually very lacking in Jazz nowadays anyways.

    Yeah! Let the Americans protect us…the Canadian battle cry!

  105. Why bother with super hornets? I am sure a few Lancaster bombers will do…

    Contact! Goggles, wind in your hair….those were the days, eh??

  106. For 150 years Canadians have not been able to agree on things as basic as an elected senate or a constitution. And you want to sit around the table and debate defence 'priorities'? The Navy is still sailing 40+ oil tankers that predate Trudeau as PM. That's what happens (or doesn't happen) when Canadians debate things. Wake me when it's over, and the 40 million dollar Royal Commission is published.

  107. I am trying to follow your logic here….65 F-35's would be outnumbered 25-1? So what use would 120 Hornets be then? Why bother doing anything at all? We should just email our surrender papers tomorrow. Our Navy is horribly outnumbered too…and so is our army.

    Best just to give up.

  108. For some of the things the government would have you believe the F-35 can do even the F-35 isn't enough. The way the Tories talk on this file you'd think we were upgrading to some sort of small Klingon warships with cloaking devices.

    And if you think the Super Hornet is no better than an old Lancaster, you'd better let the Aussies and the U.S. Navy know. They're still buying dozens of them, and the Aussies just started taking shipments this year.

  109. Has it never occurred to you that the reason the military is underfunded is the horrible job they (and the government) do in making arguments in favour of their needs? You seem to be suggesting that the reason the military is under-equipped is because we spend too much time talking about their equipment needs. I'[d suggest they're under-equipped because we spend almost no time whatsoever seriously talking about their equipment needs.

  110. Well, first off 120 Super Hornets would be outnumbered about 13-1. That kinda misses my point, but still, I'd be willing to bet that the 120 Super Hornets would at least last a little longer than the 65 F-35s would.

    My point, however, is simply that arguing for the F-35 purchase on the basis of our ability to defend our territorial integrity is asinine. There are probably a dozen arguments in favour of the F-35, but protecting Canadian airspace just isn't one of them. If the Tories are interested in giving us the ability to protect Canadians on our own from possible Russian invasion, the vaunted "deterrent" that ADSCO references and to which I was responding, then we're going to need to have a much bigger conversation as a nation, because 65 fighters, heck 120 fighters, as you imply, just isn't going to deter a nation with over 1900 fighters. You can't say that we need to get the F-35 because we need to keep up with the Russians and the Chinese technologically, while ignoring the fact that we could arguably fund a multi-trillion dollar project to develop a SIXTH generation fighter, and our small number of said super advanced fighters would STILL be wiped aside by the vastly larger Russian and Chinese forces. (Also, if we really do ever have to face the Russians or the Chinese alone then yes, it probably IS best to give up at the start and save our forces to fight some sort of guerrilla insurgency once the occupation begins… I'd rather have a few dozen F-35s hidden in a secret base in the arctic somewhere than 65 burnt out hulls of what used to be our fighter squadrons). The point is that when anyone mentions that the F-35 is arguably overkill for the types of enemies we're going to face in the future, somebody always seems to bring up the Chinese and the Russians. Well, sorry, but we can't keep up with them either, and doubling the number of F-35s we buy, or buying 65 of some mythical fighter that's even more advanced than the F-35 isn't going to close that gap. It's just about the worst argument one can make in favour of the F-35.

    I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't contribute to the defence of North American airspace, I just want us to acknowledge that given our proximity to the Americans our contribution isn't militarily meaningful as a deterrent. I happen to think we probably SHOULD buy the F-35s (though only buying 3 squadrons worth makes me nervous) I just wish the government would make some arguments in favour of the F-35 that aren't completely and transparently idiotic.