F-35: Holy and Decent says Fantino

Hansard for February 9, 2012, where Minister Fantino responds to Rideau Institute’s release of an article on the F-35 by Michael Byers and Stewart Webb, and Steven Staples’ appearance before the Standing Committee on National Defence.


National Defence + –

Ms. Christine Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, NDP): next intervention

Mr. Speaker, Great Britain recently announced that it will not make a decision about the F-35s before 2015. The United States confirmed that it will invest $2.8 billion to upgrade its aging F-16s while it waits for the F-35s. Australia will not commit to replacing its fighter jets until it knows when the F-35s will be delivered. The program is on increasingly shaky ground, and all of these countries have a plan B.

What is this government’s plan B? Canadians want to know.



Hon. Julian Fantino (Associate Minister of National Defence, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, the Royal Canadian Air Force has flown CF-18s for 30 years and we are now working with our allies, involving Britain, to develop the aircraft that will replace them. Britain faces some unique challenges that all of us can well sympathize with. However, decisions are made based on the best possible information ongoing and we are monitoring the program.





Ms. Christine Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, this government is the only one that does not see all of the red flags: rising costs, safety issues, the list goes on and on. A Rideau Institute report released yesterday lays out the flaws. The report quotes the Pentagon’s procurement chief, who said that things are messed up. The report also states that, given all of the delays, the F-35 could be obsolete by the time it is operational, if that ever happens.

Why not unveil the plan B the government was bragging about not long ago?



Hon. Julian Fantino (Associate Minister of National Defence, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, the report to which the member opposite is referring was authored by a failed NDP candidate and the Rideau Institute whose bias is well-known.

Canada’s participation in the joint strike fighter program has already resulted in millions of dollars of profit to Canadian corporations and an industry that employs some 80,000 Canadians.


Mr. Matthew Kellway (Beaches—East York, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, the report to which my colleague is referring appeared recently as a peer-reviewed study in the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal. It highlights yet again the many technical shortcomings and enormous cost risks of the F-35. The report makes clear that the F-35 is best described as an enormously expensive and troubled experiment. After all, it was just last month that we found out that the F-35 can even fly at night.

Why is the minister exposing Canadians to such enormous financial risks? When will he do the responsible thing and put this out to tender?

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Hon. Julian Fantino (Associate Minister of National Defence, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, that premise is absolutely false. The member opposite is referring to a failed NDP candidate who wrote this report, critical of everything that is holy and decent about this government’s efforts to provide our military men and women with the resources that—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

The Speaker:  Order, please. I see the hon. associate minister has more to say. The House should turn its attention to the minister so he can finish his response.

Hon. Julian Fantino:

Mr. Speaker, that report is absolutely biased. It has no objectivity whatsoever. It denigrates everything we do in order to help our military men and women do their job, look after jobs for Canadians and do the absolute right thing for the men and women doing these missions.

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