As Minister of Defense, Peter MacKay is charged with the procurement of equipment for our military.
He has been a tireless salesman promoting the acquisition of the Lockheed-Martin F-35 JSF (Joint Strike Fighter). This aircraft has been surrounded in controversy, cost over -runs and technical problems throughout its development.
The controversy that now rages is how much this aircraft is going to cost, and the stark reality is that nobody really knows, and it will not come into service in Canada for eight years.
The acquisition of this plane comes at a time when all Western governments are under severe economic restraint.
There is also the daunting question as to whether such high tech weaponry is needed in this day and age when terrorism is touted as the most serious threat to our national security.
It is arguable these excessive expenditures are not based on real needs, but testify to the effectiveness of powerful lobbyists in their greedy zeal to maintain military industrial complex profits.
Canadians should be deeply skeptical regarding Mackay’s obsessive selling of the F-35 as the only choice.
Is he, like so many other politicians, merely pandering to arms dealers wanting to sell over-priced and unneeded armaments that do not reflect a country’s real needs?
His department has rejected any consideration of the F-18 Super Hornet, an updated version of our F-18, now coming into service with the US Navy. The Super Hornet is much more suited to our needs, having twin engines and a much longer range than the F-35. It can be acquired at a fraction of the cost and has proven reliability.
Mackay has been so brazen as to use military aircraft as his personal taxi even when military personnel advised against it as politically unwise.
He showed no consideration for the operational costs of this equipment (a Cormorant helicopter costs $32,000 an hour).
Nor did he consider that he was taking essential search and rescue equipment out of service that could at any time be needed to deal with a real emergency.
MacKay has by his own actions impeached his trustworthiness in managing a major procurement of new aircraft for the RCAF; especially so in a time of economic austerity when Canadians must feel assured the right aircraft is purchased for the right reasons and at a reasonable cost.