I wanted to update you on the progress we are making in our campaign to stop Stephen Harper’s controversial plan to purchase 65 F-35 stealth fighter jets.
If you have not read Michael Byers’ latest report on why the single-engine F-35 is the wrong plane for Canada, you can download it here.The report, titled One Dead Pilot, shows that the government will expose Royal Canadian Air Force pilots to unnecessary risks to life and limb should it hold firm on its commitment to buy the F-35.
A single-engine plane is simply unsuitable for flights over Canada’s vast arctic and maritime domains. With no back-up engine any malfunction can be fatal.
These planes are made for “shock and awe” style carpet-bombing missions abroad. Canada doesn’t need these bomb-trucks—which are often used to destroy foreign cities and decimate civilian populations—nor do we need them to defend Canadians here in North America.
As you may have read on Ceasefire.ca, the Harper government has spent years trying to buy a fleet of stealth fighters that are too dangerous and unreliable to be used by the Canadian military. They’re also too expensive – when so many Canadians are seeing funding for services they rely on cut from the federal budget.
One Dead Pilot: Single-Engine F-35 a Bad Choice for Canada’s Arctic is the most recent report written by UBC professor Michael Byers and produced by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
The uncompetitive procurement process for the F-35 has been portrayed by defence officials and industry lobbyists as the sensible choice to replace Canada’s aging CF-18 Hornets – but, thanks to your support, Ceasefire.ca has popped all of Harper’s political party trial balloons.
We stuck a pin in the notion that the F-35 would be a job machine for Canada. We broke the story of former military brass operating as stealth lobbyists for Lockheed Martin’s PR Firm, CFN Consultants. We even exposed the price bubble, revealing the real cost of the fleet to be $126 billion – $81 billion higher than the cost presently acknowledged by the Harper government.
Obviously worried about his own public image ahead of the 2015 federal election, Harper has struggled to ignore the growing chorus of critics. He downplayed the critical reports released by the Auditor General and the Parliamentary Budget Officer; now he’s even stonewalling the release of a public report by a panel of independent analysts tasked with reviewing the F-35 and its competitors!
We have been talking to Members of Parliament and their senior staff about this issue for years now, informing them of the negative consequences of Harper’s procurement program.
We’ve advised them of our concerns about the Canadian economy, in the absence of guaranteed work, for the social services that will likely be cut to pay for the program, as well as about the degraded military performance and the threat to the lives of RCAF pilots that will result from flying single-engine F-35s over Canada’s vast landscape, much of which is out of range of timely search and rescue.
We have also contacted journalists across the country, encouraging more coverage of the issue. We spoke to a leading defence reporter who attended the annual CANSEC arms show in Ottawa last month, and he told us that all the major aviation firms were there fighting hard to get the government’s attention.
A while back, Steve was invited to speak to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance to voice his concerns over the government’s procurement process. He expressed his apprehension about soaring costs associated with the F-35, the lack of transparency and parliamentary oversight, confusing statements, and spin from defence contractors and ministers alike.
“Finally,” he concluded, “defence procurement strategies have not reflected the government’s goal of economic recovery and growth in key areas of the economy. The lack of a competitive process in sole-sourcing contracts has not guaranteed the industrial regional benefits that are essential for Canadian employment in these projects. For instance, there are no requirements for investment and job creation in the F-35 program.”
We have been working hard and have received such an encouraging response to our work that Ceasefire.ca’s network has grown to 25,000 supporters – a 25 per cent increase!
Before I sign off, I just want to add that if you have made a donation this year or if you are a valued member of our Peacekeepers monthly donor club – thanks a lot!
If not, will you join our Peacekeepers monthly donor club by making a small donation of $7 each month to Ceasefire.ca? We’ll send you a free book. Check it out!
Thanks for everything you do for peace.
Celyn Dufay, Ceasefire.ca
Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force