A simple error in arithmetic.

We all make them.  Maybe we should all be more forgiving about math errors.  Just recently Prime Minister Harper told us that the temporary command centre in Babel last summer cost just $14 million, not the $27 million that others estimated.  Now the politicians are quibbling over the 65 F-35 fighters that his government ordered without an open tendering process.  Will they cost Canadians a total of $16 billion or $29 billion?  It is not as though the guy is a working economist.  As Prime Minister, he has to pick a figure that he thinks the voters might buy.

The one thing for sure is that he and his defence minister know nothing about Canada’s national defence needs.  Of what use is a fighter aircraft that cannot carry enough fuel (along with any armament) to patrol our arctic?  And why would Canadians want a stealth aircraft?  Who are we going to attack?  The only use Canada could have for this aircraft would be for a surprise attack on the northern United States.  And that would certainly annoy the Americans.  (They might not be quite as annoyed if we attacked the southern U.S. but then they would need to use their tanker aircraft to refuel most of our planes for us—we do not have enough refuelling aircraft.)

Not since Mr. Harper last prorogued parliament has he shown us the colossal arrogance of his government.  The surprise announcement that we have already bought this deal makes the definitive statement on why this government must be defeated.  It makes you wonder what school of economics teaches students to send good money after bad.  We had already given the Americans hundreds of millions for them to develop the F-35.  Now that we know what it is, why we are spending billions more?

When you consider the life cycle of a fighter aircraft such as the F-35, $29 billion would be a bargain.  Then, you have to assume that there will be at least a six to ten year lag between knowing the F-35 is outdated and selecting a replacement at maybe $50 billion.  You never win at that game.

Another game that we will never win will be Michael Ignatieff’s election promise to cancel the order for these F-35s.  He will not be able to do that.  We are too locked in to the U.S. procurement cycle.  Maybe we can end up with a few dozen of the much more suitable F-22s though—if he plays his cards right.

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Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

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