On Monday May 1st Canadians will go to the polls to elect a new government. For this post I will be discussing one of the hot topics of the election. The Conservative government has announced that they would spend 9 billion dollars on 65 new fighter jets. There would also be a maintenance cost that could push the total cost closer to 20 billion. The main point of contention for many people is that the government did not open the purchase of the jets to bidding. That is, the government agreed to purchase the F-35 Lightning II from Lockheed Martin without allowing other companies to offer alternatives.
Let me be clear before I get into this, I am not endorsing the Conservatives in the election I am only outlining my position on the purchase of these jets. I agree with the purchase of these jets and think that starting a bidding process does not make any sense. This is not a contract for landscaping on parliament hill, this is a very specialized product. Canadians live under the military protection of the United States, plain and simple. I am not knocking our armed forces in any way, they always represent us well and do a great job. The size of our military however is relatively small. No one in the world would consider attacking Canada because our neighbour to the south controls the most powerful military force in history. Our military is used for operations all over the world but never in unilateral actions. We participate in military interventions with the UN and NATO. This means that our jets are being used in the same theatres as the US air force. The reason this is important is because the US is going to be using the F-35 as their next generation fighter. So when we send our jets to participate, does it make sense for the US to send all of their jets, all of their support crew and all of their spare parts etc. for the F-35 while we send our openly bid alternative jets with their support crews, their spare parts, specialists, etc.? Not at all. We should be using the same model as our closest ally.
Lockheed Martin is an American company. The US buys 75% of all Canadian exports. Without the US there is no way our economy would be doing as well as it is. When the financial crises hit most Canadians had no idea what it was all about, but they took pride in the fact that the Canadian system, whatever it was, had worked and that we had come through the global crises in very good shape. This was true and it is something to be proud of. However, we should now consider how we can use this good fortune to help the US. Our economy is small compared to the US, very small. However, we are doing well and they are having a rough time. Spending this money is something that we should do as an ally and good neighbour. It is going to help out their economy and it lets them know that we appreciate them powering our economy. It is a way to indicate that we will not just sit back while they spend billions on military actions that we condone and encourage. We will pay our share and keep our military on the cutting edge. I like this position.
I fully endorse the purchase of the jets. Canada is not an island as they say. We are a member of the world community. That involves military action, and while we have our relatively small deficit and stable economy we should be letting our allies know that we are willing to do our part.