The F-35: The way we were

Ahead of the release of the KPMG audit, here is the transcript of the September 15, 2010 meeting of the national defence committee, at which Peter MacKay, Rona Ambrose, Tony Clement, assistant deputy minister Dan Ross, assistant deputy minister Tom Ring and Lieutenant-General J.P.A. Deschamps appeared to discuss the F-35. Two months earlier, the Harper government had announced it was “acquiring the fifth generation Joint Strike Fighter F-35 aircraft.”

Mr. MacKay was enthusiastic in his opening statement to the committee.

Our commitment, colleagues, to procure the F-35 is part of the overall strategy to give the Canadian Forces the tools they need in order to deliver security to Canadians…

When we retire the CF-18s between the years 2017 and 2020, as we inevitably must, we will need a capable replacement. The Lightning II joint strike fighters will inherit those key responsibilities and are the ideal aircraft, in my view, to allow our men and women in uniform to accomplish their work. This is the right plane. This is the right number. This is the right aircraft for our Canadian Forces and for Canada. In fact, it’s the best plane for the best air force. We believe they deserve this equipment.

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 responsibilities through both NORAD and NATO. I think we can all agree that such a position would be untenable for Canada–a country that spans six time zones, a country whose total area is almost ten million square kilometres, a country with more than 243,000 kilometres of coastline, the world’s largest, and a country with numerous international obligations and varied and challenging weather systems. So the government has announced its commitment to acquire the F-35.

As a fifth-generation aircraft, it is the only plane that can fill the requirement laid out in Canada First Defence Strategy. For a next-generation fighter, the F-35 Lightning II is a technological leap. It combines leading-edge attributes, including stealth and advanced sensors, to make this aircraft more reliable, more survivable and more effective than anything else available. It is the only aircraft able to meet all the operational needs of the Canadian Forces.

But that is not all. It is the most affordable option on the market. Its production line will remain open longest—providing excellent support well into the middle of the century. And it will allow us to be seamlessly interoperable with our American and NATO allies long into the future.

It has already generated—and will continue to generate—economic and industrial benefits for Canada as part of a larger global supply chain, which ministers Ambrose and Clement will speak to shortly.

Mr. Chair, let me conclude by saying that Canada needs this aircraft. This is an aircraft that will enable the Canadian Forces to meet the increasingly complex demands of the missions that we ask our pilots to perform. It’s a capability that we need for our sovereignty, for patrolling our airspace, and for ensuring that we can shoulder our share of the NATO and international load, and lead by example.

Mr. Chair, colleagues, we have the best sailors, soldiers, and air personnel in the field. They deserve the best equipment to ensure that their missions are a success and, of course, to allow them to come home to their families safe when the job is done.

We’ve previously compiled the highlights of the Harper government’s pre-April pronouncements here and here. The auditor general’s April report on the F-35 is here.




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The F-35: The way we were

  1. “It is the most affordable option on the market. Its production line will remain open longest—providing excellent support well into the middle of the century.”

    Oh yeah? How can you confidently say that it’s the most affordable option? Did you have a competitive bidding process? No? You’re GOING to have one two years from now? Ah, I see.

    Oh, since these planes are going to be flying well into the middle of the century, do you have that fully costed out for that time frame? Can you show me your math? Oh, you can’t? Don’t want to? I see.

    Hiiiighway to the DANGER ZONE!

    • You evidently misunderstood him. You thought you heard him say these planes are going to be flying well into the middle of the century. What he really meant is these planes will be flying by the middle of the century…maybe.

      • Wouldn’t be surprised.

        Even when viewed with the most sympathetic and forgiving eye, McKay has to resign after this. You can’t be THIS wrong about something THIS big without quitting.

        • Are you kidding? This is the Cons we’re talking about here. They’re never wrong. If the facts are uncomfortable, they just alter them retroactively (and then go, “oh look, over there…a carbon tax!)”.

          Besides which, I wonder if embarrassing McKay with a demotion mightn’t alienate a core of marginally-committed red Tories from the CPC. And he knows it.

          • I’d like to think those Red Tories would understand. There’s no pretending this didn’t happen.

          • Well I was a red Tory, and I cut him lose the moment he betrayed David Orchard and joined Harper. That told us the kind of man he was right there.

          • Actually, they cut Orchard and the likes of you loose when they saw the inherent inability to work as a team—-and they gained a lot of support as a result.

          • Stop lying Andrew….it’s what’s killing Harper and the gang.

          • Another example of convenient historical revision, the typical Con practice of rewriting events to fit their own narrative.

          • Always a win/win with the Cons.

        • According to Chris Alexander the ’7 Point Plan’ wipes the slate clean.

          • Of course, if this had been handled properly, there would be no need to wipe slates clean or (as some have said) press reset buttons.

          • Now Alexander is going to need some magical way to to wipe his slate clean, after making such a fool of himself over this.

        • Even when viewed with the most sympathetic and forgiving eye, McKay has to resign after this.

          Wait a second. Peter MacKay is still a cabinet minister??? Do you have any evidence to support this assertion?

        • “You can’t be THIS wrong about something THIS big without quitting.”

          Oh yes you can.

        • You seem to be assuming anybody but us is paying attention.

      • He doesn’t actually specify this century.

    • Hey I live about 3 miles from Miramar. Lots of F-18s overhead today too….

  2. Never forget the CPC motto: “But that was then”, (often preceded in everyday usage by the colloquialism, “yabbut”).

  3. As a fifth-generation aircraft, it is the only plane that can fill
    the requirement laid out in Canada First Defence Strategy. For a
    next-generation fighter, the F-35 Lightning II is a technological leap.
    It combines leading-edge attributes, including stealth and advanced
    sensors, to make this aircraft more reliable, more survivable and more
    effective than anything else available. It is the only aircraft able to
    meet all the operational needs of the Canadian Forces

    Cept it isn’t ideal for the Arctic…and we have lots of…oddly enough, Arctic.

    Mackay has to be the worst example of empty suit this country has ever pumped up and stuck out in public with a label attached…This is the MoD. Look, listen but don’t touch!

    Resign for god’s sakes!

  4. Poor Peter, he had visions of codpieces and flight suits dancing in his head, think of all those macho photo ops! Bummer

    • At the press conference today it looked like he was thinking fish sticks and flying coach. All those insults he hurled at anyone who dared question the choice of plane and the numbers are coming back to haunt him.

    • I now have about 100 small things to wrap. Talked to hydro today – the bill at the condo is between 20 to 40 bucks a month. As opposed to 180 here.

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