Saturday, December 8, 2012

F35 Fiasco

F35I’ve avoided posting on the F35 up until now for a couple of reasons, not least of which is I have absolutely no idea whether this is the best plane for Canada at this time or not. With a defence strategy that could only charitably be called incoherent it’s hard to say what Canada’s military really needs to do whatever job the Harper Cons may require of them in the future. And secondly, I’m no aerospace expert so the technical pros and cons are just so much noise – F-35, CF-18, Navy specs, one engine, stealth, blah, blah, blah.

But here’s what I do know. The much vaunted Harper communications machine has been disastrous on this file. The obfuscations, the denials, the assertions of existing contracts, the demonizing of anyone daring to question, and the outright lies told by this government have done nothing to convince me or it seems the majority of Canadians that this is the best plane at the right price for Canada today. In fact it has done the exact opposite and rendered the F-35 toxic in the court of public opinion.

And now we have KPMG’s report on the full lifecycle costs of the plane which would appear to validate the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s numbers and further erode the Harper Conservative’s credibility on the file. But that doesn’t stop the Harper apologists from spinning this as “that’s what we’ve been saying all along”, cherry-picking out-of-context quotes to support their distorted view of reality. Good grief, will the lying never stop?

Unfortunately that’s all to be expected but the one recurring theme from the Cabinet right through to the guy on the street drinking the Harper Con kool-aid is a variant of “When you buy a car you don’t factor in the life cycle costs”, the implication being that the PBO and KPMG costings are therefore suspect. To which I say bullshit! Only a fool (or someone very wealthy) doesn’t compare the gas mileage one would expect, the warranty periods, future maintenance costs when deciding between that Mazda RX-3 and a Humvee. And if the choice is between no car and owning your own the calculus becomes even more critical – cost of parking, borrowing costs, licence fees, and so on.

So you’re simply wrong. You can argue the merits of one jet versus another. You can argue over the procurement process. But you can’t use the argument that real people in the real world don’t do lifecycle costing.

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