Sunday, April 10, 2011

Harper Cornered?

Slowly, but surely, Harper is boxing himself into a corner on the F-35 purchase. I found a fairly basic problem with today's rationalization, namely that one can go read the five year old Memorandum Of Understanding and it shows "we are sheltered from research and development costs". Harper told Canadians it is posted online, now moving from the secret letter to this very visible document that proves we are immune.

I went to look at the MOU, and straight away, on the first page, a GLARING and contradictory HOLE in Harper's argument emerged:

Note the countries that are included in this agreement. Here's the rub:


"Netherlands' coalition government has decided to put off a decision to buy the F-35 until its next cabinet in 2014, according to Dutch defence ministry spokesperson Sascha Louwhoff.

The decision arose from the fact that in December, the US ambassador to the country told Dutch Defence Minister Hans Hillen that his country's order of 85 F-35s would cost 1.4 billion euros more than originally thought."


The Australian defence community reacted strongly when Canada's PBO released its report that suggested Canada's F-35 purchases would be twice the government estimate, because the numbers would be similar for an ally like Australia. Andrew Davies from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute told reporters Australia should review its commitment.

While the Australian government is not wavering on its commitment to eventually buy 72 F-35s, it does note that the government expects by 2012 to have "firmer estimates of total project costs."

"We are accepting that there is no definitive known cost or development timeline of this thing as it develops," said Jamie Patten-Richens, a defence adviser at the Australian High Commission.


Norway intends to delay ordering its 48 planned F-35 Lightning II fighter jets until 2012 or later, senior officials said.

"We have not signed a purchase agreement, and Norway is unlikely to do so for several more years until the Joint Strike Fighter program's costs stabilize," said Espen Barth Eide, Norway's state secretary.

There is more, concerns in Britian, Italy, Israel. What the above highlights, these are all countries that are privy to this special deal, this MOU Harper was clinging to today. The question then becomes- why are these governments delaying, musing about cost overruns, uncertainty, when they have the same SWEETHEART deal that Harper referenced today? Why are other countries concerned, as Harper says "there's a memorandum of understanding... sheltered from research and development costs"?

In a last ditch effort Harper talked of a letter to counter cost overrun evidence. When pressed, Harper tried to plead transparency citing the MOU as PROOF that we are immune. A Conservative war room in damage control, making it up on the fly, and they've caught themselves. I didn't even finish the first page of the MOU, when the most obvious of contradictions was found. ALL the other countries with that SAME MOU doesn't seem to share Harper's confidence, in fact their interpretation doesn't even REMOTELY compare. No, all these other countries that are "sheltered from research and development costs" are scrambling, delaying, trying to come to grips with runaway costs. At the very least, Harper should call them and tell them all is well, you are IMMUNE! Tomorrow we will learn that Canada has another MOU, but we can't show you that one because of cabinet confidence or something. Today's answer just raises more questions...


weeble said...

I wonder the motive. We need new fighters, ok, but looking at various other options would seem logical. Do we need a stealth fighter, do we need the elite F35 or something else?
I would suggest that Harper is attempting to establish a legacy...something for which he will be remembered.

ottlib said...

No, he is just stubborn and refuses to admit when he is wrong.

Anonymous said...

Team Harper is just lying.

A Eliz. said...

I read that Canada always bought planes with 2 engines in case we needed them for the Arctic. What would Harper want one engine for?

rockfish said...

Follow the money is usually the best answer to all puzzling government questions...

The Mound of Sound said...

An aside. If the Dutch are going to possibly acquire 85-F35s with their miniscule country surrounded by so many friendly, heavily armed allied nations, just how are we supposed to 'defend' Canada with 65?

On a population basis, the Dutch are just about exactly half the size of Canada. Whereas Canada has just under 10 million sq. kms. of territory to defend,much of it expected to be contested, Holland comes in at 41,526 and is very secure territorially.

Just what are we supposed to do with a force of 65 airframes, probably less than half of which would actually be operational at any given moment? It's a farce.

Steve V said...


That has been a common criticism. Harper loves to wrap himself in the military, but this plane could actually put lives at risk.


You raise a good point, nobody wants to talk about. Canada can't defend itself with this paltry amount of planes, if there was any invasion, we still need the Americans to bail us out. What these planes are really for is missions elsewhere, and on that score, do we really need this many as part of a coalition?

Steve V said...

Australia now moving away from the F-35: