Liberals Quietly Backing Away From Election Pledge On F-35s
They promised on the campaign trail to exclude the jets from competition to replace CF-18s.
The Trudeau Liberals may have promised to exclude the F-35 from the competition to replace the air force’s aging CF-18 jet fighters, but federal officials meeting the day after last fall’s election were singing a completely different tune, documents reveal.
The records, obtained by The Canadian Press, show top Industry Canada bureaucrats met on Oct. 20 and discussed what advice to give the incoming government about the controversial procurement, emphasizing the decision should be based on requirement, not politics.
“A procurement decision like C-18 replacement is primarily driven by the operational needs of the Canadian Forces,” said the briefing.
Prior to the election, Trudeau said the Liberals would not proceed with the F-35 purchase and would instead run an open competition, with savings from a cheaper alternative set aside to rebuild the navy.
The Liberals have been quietly backing away from that position, with both Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Procurement Minister Judy Foote pointedly refusing to exclude Lockheed Martin, the F-35’s U.S.-based manufacturer, from the competition.
The documents provide, for the first time, tantalizing clues as to why the Liberals moderated their tone.