By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch
The Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations won’t be studying the purchase of 18 Boeing Super Hornets anytime soon.
Conservative MPs Alupa Clarke, and Kelly McCauley, the party’s critics for Public Services and Procurement, moved a motion Thursday calling on the Liberal members of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates to immediately undertake a study of the government’s proposed purchase of the Super Hornets and that the committee report its findings to the Commons no later than Thursday, April 13. Debate on this motion was shut down by the Liberal majority on the committee, the Conservatives said.
Alupa Clarke and Kelly McCauley issued a statement following the committee: “The Liberals have once again used their majority on the Committee to shut down debate on the motion to study the Boeing sole-source contract. It is unacceptable that we are forced to resort to procedural tactics to have a study on such a massive contract for Canada. Despite the concerns of experts, military officials, and public servants, the Liberals will not allow this discussion to happen.”
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced in November the Liberal government’s decision to buy 18 Boeing Super Hornets as “interim” fighter jets until a permanent fleet for the existing CF-18 aircraft could be bought.
Sajjan said Canada is facing a capability gap because it doesn’t have enough fighter jets to fulfill its military missions. Sajjan blamed the situation on the previous Conservative government, which he said had bungled the project to replace the aging CF-18s.
But Conservative defence critic James Bezan has questioned the Liberal claim the CF-18s are on their last legs. He has pointed out that military officers have stated those fighter jets can operate effectively until 2025, more than enough time for a permanent replacement jet to be bought.
Defence department officials had earlier warned against buying an interim fighter jet. But the report containing those warnings, which had previously been on the department’s website for more than a year, was quietly removed after the Liberal government announced its Super Hornet purchase.
The Defence Research and Development Canada report recommended against the purchase of such “bridging” aircraft to deal with gaps in capability. “The costs involved with bridging options make them unsuitable for filling capability gaps in the short term,” according to the report. “Any short term investment results in disproportionately high costs during the bridging period.”
The Liberal government has acknowledged the decision to buy the 18 Super Hornets will cost more in the long run but they haven’t provided details on what that amount might be.
There is no right now price tag,” Sajjan recently told journalists. “Once we have gone through the right process, have all the necessary information, then we’ll have an actual price tag.”