Five questions for Ministers Filomena Tassi and Anita Anand on the purchase of Canada’s new fleet of fighter jets
Filomena Tassi, Anita Anand
On November 15, Ottawa Citizen reporter David Pugliese reported: “The three aerospace firms bidding on the fighter jet program were told in writing by the federal government that a decision would be made this month on a ‘down select’ of companies that would be allowed to advance to the final stage of the competition.”
Pugliese adds: “That, in turn, would set the stage for the winning bidder to be announced in March/April of 2022.”
He then highlights: “But now Public Services and Procurement Canada has gone silent on whether that timetable will be met.”
Filomena Tassi, the new the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, has the responsibility for the procurement process. She is working in conjunction with Minister of National Defence Anita Anand. Ultimately, the decision on the new fighter jet will need cabinet approval.
Beyond the reported delay, there are still at least five significant unanswered questions about the purchase of these new fighter jets:
1- When will the Parliamentary Budget Officer conduct a full-cost assessment of the lifespan costs of these fighter jets? While the purchase cost may be $19 billion, the full cost over 30-years has been estimated by community activists at $76.8 billion.
2- Will a calculation be made on the greenhouse gas emissions from this fleet of 88 fighter jets? A basic calculation would suggest the fleet could consume 3.94 billion litres of fuel. At COP26 this month there was a call for transparency in military emissions.
3- The current fleet of CF-18s has conducted an estimated 1,598 offensive bombing missions over the past 30 years. Murray Brewster of CBC News has reported on DND’s refusal to disclose the casualty figures from its bombing missions in Iraq and Syria. Will a comprehensive report on casualties be released before billions are spent on new warplanes?
4- At what point and how will the United States grant its “ultimate certification” of the Canadian government’s choice of a fighter jet? Lee Berthiaume of The Canadian Press has reported: “American officials will need to certify the fighter jet Canada buys at the end of a multibillion-dollar procurement [process].”
5- Will there be a parliamentary debate on the lifespan costs, carbon pollution, offensive uses and ultimate certification process prior to the contract with either Lockheed Martin, Boeing or Saab being signed next year?
While most parliamentary parties appear to agree on the economic value of buying new fighter jets (disputed by Costs of War Project research), these unanswered questions suggest much greater transparency and public scrutiny is needed before a contract is signed.
Boeing F/A-18, Lockheed Martin F-35, Saab Gripen