While both sides have a case to make with respect to the procurement costs and industrial benefits, the sovereignty question sidesteps the larger issue behind this purchase. Although the F-35’s ability to defend Canadian airspace was surely taken into account, that is not what makes this plane especially attractive to the government and the air force. The value of the F-35 is that it will permit Canada to take part in multinational air operations overseas for decades to come. Put simply, in buying these aircraft, the government will ensure that Canada can play a visible role in future allied air campaigns across the world.
In fact, if the Liberals eventually form a government, it’s this aspect of the F-35 that is likely to persuade them to go through with the purchase, however grudgingly.