I am not a fanboy for our current Conservative government by any means, but by no means should the failures in defense procurement be pinned solely on this government. The Conservatives did get it right with their contract procedure for acquiring new vessels for the Royal Canadian Navy, it was independent, devoid of politics, and absolutely fair. In fact the opposition parties, the NDP and Liberals, are holding this as the gold standard to which all procurement should be awarded.

The F35 though is a failure. The failure is not the Conservatives alone to bear. One of the misnomers that comes from this is that the F35 was sole-sourced. Wrong. If one takes the time to read how the F35 project came about, you’ll see that the JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) program had two competing planes from two different manufacturers. The Boeing X32 and the Lockheed-Martin X35 were prototypes pitched to the powers that be on the JSF project. The two competed on cost, materials, features, performance and timelines. X35 won as selected by the partners which include countries like the United States, Canada, Norway, Austrailia, Great Britain and others. Then those countries pooled their orders and that’s where we are. The JSF program was first proposed in 1993 by the US Government and in 1997 the Canadian Government first signed on as a partner. Who was Prime Minister of Canada in 1997?

This guy, Jean Chretien. Liberal Prime Minister of Canada from 1993 to 2003. Chretien signed on to the program as a replacement for the CF188 fighters (yes, I used the real name for the Canadian F18’s).

The decision on which plane won the competition was announced in 2001. The X35 outperformed the X32 and so it was chosen. Who was Prime Minister during that time? Jean Chretien.

This is the same Prime Minister who cancelled a program in 1993 to replace aging Sea King helicopters, paid $500 million in cancellation fees only to buy the same helicopter in 2001 for search and rescue duty in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Sure, there have been screwups and personally, I think we could do without the F35’s, the F18 Super Hornets would be a good fit at a much lower cost. Defense analysists state we should have an airforce of about 200 fighter jets for the population and support we need in Canada. 65 F35’s or 200 F18 Super Hornets. I’ll go with 200 planes.

And what about the subs?

Canada bought four used diesel-powered subs from the British Royal Navy in 1998 for 750 Million Dollars. Since then they have seen literally no service. The HMCS Chicoutimi disaster epitomizes the poor defense policy it was to buy some other navy’s junk. 14 years after purchase we still have no subs that operate, except for scraping the bottom of the ocean floor in military accidents.

Who was Prime Minister when the Victoria-class subs were purchased?

Yup same guy.

So who is to blame with the failures of Canadian military procurement? Who is to blame for the F35 being chosen? Who is to blame for the method that the F35 was chosen? Who is to blame for junk submarines that wouldn’t even make it on to an episode of Canadian Pickers?

Yup. That guy.