Having a favourite military purchase fiasco feels like having a favourite gruesome sports injury. And yet ...
While I agree 100%, I think you ignore the key role the media played in all this. The Conservatives lost their nerve when the PBO announced that the F-35 would cost not $9B but $150B (over their 50 year life), leading to a media and public outcry.
Instead of the obvious answer, which is that any air force at all would cost essentially the same regardless of aircraft type, the media pretended, and allowed the Liberals to pretend, that this cost was specific to the F-35. And that costing over 50 years made sense.
How was it possible that any journalist even slightly interested in truthful, objective reporting fell for this? Or is it the case that only a tiny minority of Canadian journalists are even slightly interested in truthful, objective reporting?
This is a far more serious issue for Canada than our government's undoubted incompetence and lack of seriousness in military procurement and, frankly, everything else they do.
Excellent point Marc. Re PBO report, I recall that it used parametric analysis to estimate the full life cycle cost. This time of analysis is typically used to estimate things like the amount of concrete needed to build a 10 story building. It is a broad tool, and hardly applicable to this century fighter jets. The Auditor General report was just as bad, a swan song for the outgoing AG. And you are right, the media was served up a softball and hit it out of the park: far easier to precipitate a pointless political fight than to ask simple questions like: what the hell is parametric analysis. The f35 was always the the next gen fighter jet for Canada if capability and interoperability are the key selection criteria.
Oh, would this sensibility extend to our equally needed (and equally appalling procurement history) frigate replacement. Here is a suggestion: just buy 4 Arleigh Burkes (with sufficient C2 capability) and 15 extant frigates from the US (our most important military partner). Do not/not open the process to anything other than strictly limited and strictly monitored capability upspend by the military. Time to rip the band aid off. The shipbuilding strategy has not worked.
I recall being told by a Forces member after September 11, that the RCAF had a commitment of 45 aircraft for NORAD and 45 for NATO. The decision of the Chretien government was to make sure we had 45 total available, as "what are the odds we'll need both at the same time". Rick Mercer would and probably has had, a field day with this.
Welcome back (I know you co-wrote other stuff while you were on vacation.) What a country. We should have an award show on CBC (poetic justice) each year to recognize incompetence. “The award for most innovative screw-up goes to …” “This year’s worst federal Cabinet Minister is …”
You can add the helicopter fiasco to the list too. More Liberal screwing around both the forces and Canadian taxpayers.
"When you write a lot about military procurement, as I certainly have, you can’t help but grow a bit (!) jaded and cynical. Even by the standards of my appallingly lowered expectations, though, this was an outrageous decision." Now try being the person who is actually using the equipment, getting into the plane, the ship the tank...it's scary.
Sadly, I am not sufficiently informed to make an intelligent comment on the substance of the argument, but I LOVE the writing: witty and wonderful. Thanks for a great read.
There are no excuses for the kind of journalism we have today. None. If they can not write facts, you don’t make them up to get people to read your work. Many older and famed journalists are deeply concerned where this garbage journalism is headed. It’s no wonder it’s on its way out. When Christia Freeland calls the publication and writer, saying she does not like the way the truth is written and wants it changed, then we do not call Canada a free and democratic country with a free press, and we certainly do not call that journalism. When the government allows Chinese newspapers in the press gallery but will not allow Canadian ones in because they call them out for the corruption, then this is no longer a free and democratic country, even the judge ruled on that, nor can you call it journalism. You may call it by any other name but it is not, nor will ever be journalism! Save yourself and do what The Line is doing. Do what Bari Weiss, Trish Wood, Matt Taibei, True North, Rupa Subramanya and real journalists do. It’s a craft and it is about truth. It’s holding those with power accountable for their actions, not aiding them in tyranny
If our WW2 and Korean war vets could see what we've become militarily, they would weep. What was all their sacrifice for? To see our country run by a prancing idiot? I've come to equate three words with one: "Liberal decision making" and "stupid". And partly for that reason I question the choice of the F35. I know the F35 is a marvelous airplane, but I feel the Saab Gripen would have been a much better fit for Canada's budget and needs. I see the F35 as an elegant sleek thoroughbred, chosen to compete in a steeplechase through rough bush country. In a dogfight with Russian fighters, it will happen over the Arctic, not conveniently near Edmonton or Montreal where paved runways and nice big hangers are available for maintenance.
Isn't part of the problem with military procurement the obsession with delivering "industrial benefits" to swing ridings as opposed to fulfilling military requirements? Canada needs to accept the reality that it will never create competitive let alone competent aerospace or ship building industries, and focus on buying the best off the shelf solutions.
Sad truth is that no one really cares. Will one person change their vote because of this fiasco?
So ... did anyone at the time the Liberal platform was released point out the gaff? ... or anytime afterwards, until you're now doing Matt?
This looks like Justin's possibly first "dumbass" mistake! But if it had been pointed out and publicized loudly, should that not have prevented them from breaking their collective necks all these years to hide the mistake?
Don't forget procurement of sidearms.
CAF are still using World War II vintage Brownings. The problem is that no replacements are available. Even spare parts are unavailable, so we must cannibalize to weapons we have left.
Government called for tenders back in 2010. Unfortunately, bids had to meet two conditions (1) Manufacturing had to take place in a Canadian factory (Colt, as I recall) (2) any trade secrets had to be made available to the Canadian company. As a result, there were no significant offers. (Putting industrial strategy ahead of military effectiveness is a common thread in Canadian military procurement.)
Fast forward. A contract was finally awarded to Beretta. However, the structure of the call for offers was appealed by another bidder, Sig Sauer, who won in court earlier this year. The court said that the procurement process was fatally flawed and had to be redone. So the Canadian Armed Forces still don't have replacement sidearms, and won't for another year or five.
All of which goes a long way to explain why Canada is not giving weapons to Ukraine. We don't have any that we are not ashamed of.
And how much did the Chretien Liberals pay to not buy helicopters back when?
Honest question here - and maybe I'm too biased on this one. The auditor general sort of killed Harper's deal by demanding a full lifecycle cost and making it look like the Feds had lied or vastly underestimated the cost of the jets. At the time, I saw that as having been the nail in the coffin of the F-35, and that up until then, Harper's government was moving forward.
While the Auditor General's report may not have been politically motivated, I felt that the hay made by the Libs on this file was very misleading. They gained very much by making it look like Harper was purposely hiding 20 billion or so in costs on the F-35 which made it impossible for him to proceed.
And that may be my bias, but that's had me blaming the LPC for Harper backing away from that deal. Am I off-base here?
Twenty years ago when my kids were little and I was reading the newspaper and watching the national news, all the while thinking I was a well-informed citizen keeping on top of important shit.
Well, dammit all. I had no clue. As did most other voters, apparently.
Yeah. These days I'm way more inclined to suspect editorial decisions at major news brokers. There is just too much pressure to feed viewers, listeners and readers the easiest, quickest, catchiest, risk-free stories.