Trudeau government to spend $19-billion on new fighter jets

Since 1997, the federal government has given over US$613 million for fighter jets to US defence giant Lockheed Martin.

Elie Cantin-Nantel Ottawa ON

Canada has made another payment towards F-15 fighter jets to the chagrin of activists like David Suzuki.

The Globe and Mail reports that Canada is one of nine countries that has agreed to pay the cost of Lockheed Martin’s developments to purchase planes for a cheaper price. The federal government has given over US$613 million to the company since 1997. The investment comes as Canada is set to announce its plans to buy 88 new planes at an expected cost of $19-billion.

The Conservatives under then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced plans in 2010 to purchase 65 F-35 fighter jets that later fell through when the price was disclosed. Canada paid US$71.7-million annually to remain tethered to the F-35 project, which garnered discounts on the purchase cost and avoided competition for billions of dollars in contracts. However, the Trudeau Liberals promised open and fair competition during the 2015 federal election campaign, citing concerns that the F-35 could be too expensive to operate. They did not guarantee that the F-35s would replace the CF-18s.

Defence Department procurement chief Troy Crosby said that the federal government remains on track to finish evaluating the three bids later this year, with a contract signed next year. They have Martin's F-35s, Boeing’s Super Hornet, or Saab’s Gripen to choose from as replacements for the military's 40-year-old CF-18s. The new aircraft is expected to arrive beginning in 2025 and will take until 2032 to complete.

News of Canada purchasing the new fighter jets procured outrage. A number of singers, authors, politicians and activists have signed a statement calling on the Trudeau Liberals to cancel their plans to buy the military new jets. Those who have signed include Neil Young, Michael Ondaatje and outspoken environmental activist David Suzuki.

“The expensive weapons are largely useless in responding to natural disasters, providing international humanitarian relief or in peacekeeping operations,” the statement reads. “Nor can they protect us from a pandemic or the climate and other ecological crises.” They claim the real cost over the jets' lifetime will contribute $77 billion to climate change, and that the money would be better spent elsewhere, such as on building railways or supporting indigenous communities.


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