The time has come for the great silent majority of the Canadian people to wake up to the mortal danger that this country is in. The survival of the Canadian federation in its present form is at stake on Monday. For Canada to endure, we must be a nation where the rights of all regions – and all citizens – are respected. This country cannot permanently endure with half of the people and provinces as indentured servants of the rest. Either we must have a government that recognizes this – and can rebalance the federation to ensure that none is compelled to be the servant of any other – or we must have not merely a change of government, but a new government.
We are faced with truly daunting numbers in the years to come. The retirement of the Baby Boom generation – and all of the costs that that will entail upon the rest of us – will place an unspeakable burden upon the citizens of tomorrow. If we are to meet this challenge, we must have a fair country and a fair government. We must have a return of genuine fairness. It cannot be that only the most productive citizens in the most productive regions of the country will be asked to bear all of the costs of government and suffer all of the burdens of living for the sake of those places and people that would not.
Some, including myself, have referred to the alternative government as the “coalition of the losers.” I think that a more apt term would be to describe it as the “coalition of the looters.” The alternative to a Conservative government is a government made up of left-wing MP’s from regions that already take more from the federation than they put in – elected by people who take more back from the government than they pay for it. Even more bluntly: what the opposition wants is to form a government whose core supporters would be socialists from Quebec and the Maritimes that would vote to “reform” our electoral and economic systems in such a way as would legally enshrine the economic exploitation of the West for the benefit of their home regions. What we are faced with is the possibility of a stark real-world enactment of the scenario wherein 51% of the population votes to rob the other 49%. Such an outcome may be “democratic” in the narrowest sense of the word, but it is not just. It would, in fact, be an intolerable one.
Why do I object so strongly to the false doctrines of the opposition? Obviously, economic self-interest plays a role. But there are deeper issues than that. Simply put: they are immoral. No moral code known to man, anywhere in the world, sanctions the sort of monstrous system that they have devised and now sanction. Yes, it is fair and just that the poor should be fed – but that, ladies and gentlemen is not what we are talking about, nor does any intellectually honest person who has considered the matter seriously believe that it is. Most government spending – and most of the spending advocated by the opposition – is actually about taking money from one group of people who have money and giving it to another group of people who have money based upon the personal and political preferences of bureaucrats and politicians for the purpose of buying votes and building personal empires with looted funds.
If government programs actually reduced poverty, as Ronald Reagan once pointed out, don’t you think that someone would stop every once and a while to read us the score? Instead, all we ever hear about is the need for ever more money even as results from around the world in many fields, especially education and health care, where other nations get better results at significantly lower costs, show us that spending is not the solution to the problem: spending is the problem. In fact, all that all of our additional spending on these areas does is fuel a relentless inflation of costs to which our friends in the opposition tell us the only solution is yet more spending.
Simply throwing money at our problems has not solved them in the past. Nor will it in the future. It isn’t designed to. Spending isn’t meant to help the people – it’s meant to help the government and its employees. Government and the people are not always one and the same. We all ought to desire a government of the people, by the people, and for the people – but a government that is not those things, a government that is instead concerned with the promotion of narrow sectional interests can instead become an enemy of the people.
Let us consider for a moment what a government by the so-called “coalition” – whether led by the NDP or led by the Liberals – would mean for the country now and in the future. In every scenario that has been laid out – every possible future – the Conservatives and Prime Minister Harper will win the overwhelming majority of seats in English Canada. They will win something approaching a super-majority in the West.
Allow me to speak very directly: we are faced with alternative futures. Bonds of blood and sentiment tie Western Canadians to the rest of the nation. But, economically, Western Canada would probably be better off on its own. In fact, it is very easy to imagine how a Western Republic could be made into a sort of libertarian utopia. Its abundant resources reserved for itself, the a Western Republic would be an economic powerhouse simply based upon its potential for commodity exports. But, beyond that, once freed from the shackles of Federal debt and the need to fund other less-productive regions of the country it could also become a low-tax paradise within North America, attracting countless international corporations and businesses. Better still – a tough, generous, and enlightened immigration policy could see it become the first nation in the world to raise its own IQ by a whole standard deviation as the nation found itself with the choice of all of the best immigrants from the rest of the world. Such a nation could be prosperous and secure beyond all imagination – and I haven’t even gotten into how such a country could further prosper by seizing the North and freeing its citizens from the East in other ways.
What I have outlined above is not what the silent majority of people in the Western Provinces want. Many of them come from the East. Many of them have family there. And, for some, there remains the powerful hold of those generations that fought overseas, in defense of freedom, as one nation. The majority is not radical – but it can be radicalized by the actions of others.
“Self-government,” Calvin Coolidge once said, “means self-support.” That is an elemental truth. To translate this principle into fact, as must have a strong Conservative government that can make the sort of long-desired reforms that would prevent any future economic raid against the West a reality. Quebec’s price for its continuation within Canada has long been the right to destroy certain civil liberties within its own territory and to impose a form of political inequality on the rest of the nation. These demands have long been treated as reasonable. The West’s demands are much simpler: there must be a genuine political equality between the regions. Mechanisms must be put in place to ensure that never again can one region of the country game the system in order to loot another.
There is work to be done yet. We are not finished. If the great silent majority of the Canadian people can be awoken to the true intentions of the coalition then we may be safe still. Powerful forced are aligned against us – forces whose personal intentions are both malign and benign but whose effect upon us would be destructive all the same.
Now is not the time to give into destructive pessimism and cynicism. Men at some times are masters of their fates. The fault, my friends, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves. Let’s win this thing and we won’t have to worry about what comes after,
Countless supporters of the opposition, after spending the opening weeks of the campaign denouncing the Prime Minister’s “coalition” warnings as specious nonsense are now busy lecturing us about the legality and rightness of the proposed combination. But let’s get the thing straight – no one is saying that it would be illegal for Mr. Ignatieff to engineer his ascension to the Prime Minister’s office while controlling about a quarter of the seats in the House of Commons. What I – and others – are saying is that such a maneuver would be unprecedented, undemocratic, immoral and bad for – and possibly even fatal to – the country.
What is legal may not be moral. This should be an obvious distinction unless your personal values are drawn entirely from books issued by the state. But, enough rhetoric – let’s talk facts and history.
What the Liberals say to us today is that it is entirely normal and legitimate in our system of government for the party with the second-most seats to form a government. This is a testable proposition since, after all, we live in a country that has used the same system for more than a century and which has ten insular jurisdictions that use it as well. Additionally, the same system is also used in the United Kingdom. This gives us a fairly broad basis for comparison.
Alright then. So we have a testable basis for comparison – all of the General Elections held in Canada both at the Federal and Provincial level as well as those held in the United Kingdom since, oh, let’s say since the introduction of Universal Suffrage. So, in other words, about a century worth of elections. How many times has the leader of the second-place party taken the seals of office?
By my count: three. Ontario in 1985. Canada in 1925. Great Britain in 1924. Three out of more than one hundred – with at least twenty-some odd minority governments formed among them.
Let’s look at the conditions of the three. In Ontario, in 1985, the Tories won 52 seats, the Liberals won 48 and the NDP won 25. The NDP and Liberals formed a coalition backed by a formal agreement. Further, the Liberals won more votes than the Conservatives. Given the small size of the Conservative plurality and the ability of the Liberal-NDP coalition to command a strong majority in the Provincial Parliament, this appears to be consistent with both our Constitutional traditions and basic principles of fairness.
1925, of course, is the famous King-Byng affair. In that case, again the Liberals held fewer seats than the Conservatives – but they had a clear pledge of support from the Progressives. Moreover, as King was the incumbent Prime Minister he had a constitutional right to the office until forced to resign. Furthermore, the Liberals held only fifteen fewer seats than the Conservatives.
1924 saw Britain’s first Labour Government – once more installing the second-place party. However, in this case, the first-place Conservatives were nearly one hundred seats short of a majority and, further, had the tacit support of the third-place Liberals. This, however, comes the closest to what the present coalition imagines – it proved to be unstable and lasted just nine months.
Those are all of the examples, of all of the elections that we’ve had, where the second place party has formed the government. In each case, there was a clear majority that existed for the participants in the government. Nothing I can find in the entire period – or in all of Canadian history – is quite like the sort of hydra-headed monster being contemplated today: a government led by a man sixty or so seats behind the leader, a coalition grouping with fewer seats than the party they mean to replace, the government sustained in power by a force explicitly opposed to the national interest. There has never, in the annals of Westminster democracy, been a government of the sort which is now being contemplated. There is good reason for this: such a government would have absolutely no mandate (other than to pay off the Bloc and NDP to retain power) and it would profoundly alienate entire regions of the country.
The arrangement proposed – this coalition of the losers – would make any future Conservative government impossible under anything but perfect conditions. It would mean that entire sections of the country would be left permanently without government representation even as their resources and wealth were pillaged to feed the voracious appetites of the Ottawa beast. The conditions it would create would be intolerable and those who pursue it do so at their own peril.
As we survey the Canadian political landscape, let’s begin with some math.
The Bloc Québecois have averaged forty-eight seats across the six elections they have contested. Over the last ten years, they’ve averaged a little over fifty-one. It’s a fair guess to surmise that the Bloc will win roughly fifty seats in this election and, in all likelihood, that they will do so indefinitely into the future. After all, the Bloc have proven themselves popular for twenty years.
That’s fact one.
What do we extrapolate from this? There are three hundred and eight seats in the House of Commons. A government needs to win one hundred and fifty-five of them to form a majority. In other words, any party seeking to form a majority government in Canada on its own (other than the Bloc which, of course, does not contest seats outside of Quebec given that Quebec independence/blackmail it its raison d’être) must win 155 of the remaining 258 seats. Or, to put it another way – they must win a little over 60% of the remaining seats in play.
This is possible: barely. The Liberals did it in 1993, 1997, and 2000 by drawing, in the form of a hopelessly divided right, an inside straight. With a united right it appears, frankly, to be impossible. Looking at the numbers suggests to me that, if you were to put fifty Quebec seats out of play, the only other majority government that would have been formed in the last fifty years other than those would have been Brian Mulroney’s in 1984. The Bloc’s permanent stranglehold on a large chunk of Quebec makes a majority government possible only in the face of the total collapse of one side or the other.
That’s fact two.
Now, we come to the matter of the so-called “Coalition.” After looking at the issue from every angle from which it might be seen, I have come to the same conclusion as the Prime Minister: the plan of the Leader of the Opposition must be – must always have been – to, after an election that returns another Conservative minority, revive the proposed opposition coalition of 2008. No other fact pattern makes any sense. There is not now – nor does there ever seem to have been – any reasonable chance of the Liberals “winning” this election in a conventional sense. They have consistently trailed the Conservatives in the polls for years now and, further, the issues upon which they have chosen to wage this campaign – moving from the nonsensical “jets and jails” opening to the predictable health care closing – have inspired no one. The plan must be – and must always have been – to see a Parliament returned with roughly the same shape as the last and then to defeat the government on the budget and re-enact the drama of 2008-2009.
In fact, some more honest left-wing partisans have been eager to admit that this is exactly what they hope for. Such a government – a “Coalition of the Losers” would, they point out, be entirely legal and constitutional. In fact, they are eager to point out, it would be entirely in keeping with the British Parliamentary tradition wherein whoever can hold the confidence of the House of Commons serves as the government. This is all true enough and yet it cannot disguise the fact that the proposed government, cloaked in tradition thought it may be, would be fundamentally illegitimate and undemocratic in its nature and would, in fact, be without true precedent in the Westminster tradition and would be a serious threat to the continued existence of Canada as a nation.
I am unaware of – and I would love for anyone else to provide an example – any situation in a parliamentary government where a government has been formed dependent upon the votes of a party or faction hostile to the existence of the country they claim to represent and whose purpose within the legislature is the extraction of special treatment for a particular region. I am familiar, of course, with historical examples where such factions have existed – but I cannot think of an example where a government’s existence has been based on a tacit alliance with one – especially a government that commanded the support of something like 30% of the public. It would be like a government in the United Kingdom finding itself dependent upon Sinn Fein for its existence.
The scenario we appear to be faced with is this: in the event that this election returns a Parliament much like the last one and if the drama of 2008 is repeated, we would see the leader of a party with barely a quarter of the seats in the House of Commons installed as the Prime Minister. This government would be installed over that of a party which won roughly 60% of the seats in English Canada. Further, because this government would be dependent upon both the Bloc and the NDP for its day-to-day survival it would be compelled to enact an agenda of tax increases and special treatment for Quebec that would be deeply offensive to some sections of the country.
Consider, for example, Mr. Ignatieff’s promise of a cap and trade system – a tax that would be paid disproportionately by Albertans who already pay far more into Confederation than they get back from it. Such a tax would, in all likelihood, be levied against the people of a Province without a single elected member of the government. Its proceeds – and those of the other taxes certain to be levied against the West – would be used to fund bribes and programs which the West had just overwhelmingly voted against. Such acts would be fundamentally necessary to the perpetuation of such a government and yet, at the same time, they would be – to knowingly borrow from the American Revolutionary lexicon – intolerable.
The ascension of the coalition that the Prime Minister has warned us against would amount to a nothing less than a very Canadian coup: a government operating without the consent of the plurality of the governed (rising to a majority in some regions) committed to policies, in the form of increased taxation, transfers, and spending, that would amount to nothing less than an attack against regions unjustly deprived of representation.
I repeat it: to be taxed and to have our money transferred to other places without our consent – to be ordered about and regulated by a government whose forces and sympathies would be indistinct from those of an occupying power – would be intolerable.
The advocates of this Coalition – this multi-headed beast stumbling out of the desert like the creature of Revelation – ought to understand the dangerous forces that they are unleashing. What they appear to have planned is a system wherein English Canada – and especially the West – shall be governed by forces that they have repeatedly rejected and who will be acting against their interests.
And they should understand this as well: the West is not Quebec. The West has resources, friends, energy and spirit. The rest of the nation – as ought to be demonstrated by the fiscal flows of recent years – needs the West more than the West needs them. As emotionally wrenching as a break with the rest of the country would be, the West would likely gain – in an economic sense – from an existence as an independent nation. After all, we have food, oil, timber, and geography on our side. If the unwise actions of certain power-hungry individuals were to force such a break, we would also be freed of the debts accumulated, supposedly on our behalf, by previous Federal Governments. It is not hard to imagine the possibilities of a young nation bridging the Americas and Asia, freed of most of its debts and many of its other burdens. Few are eager to break with the lands of their ancestors – but we have an excellent example in the history of this continent what happens when the propertied classes are compelled to action by the tyrannies and usurpations of distant rulers who had believed them docile.
For the present, we have little choice but to support the Prime Minister – and to steel ourselves for whatever may come.
Hey, look, one of these things is not like the other.
Here’s what the Liberals have to say about their plan for the Canada Pension Plan in both their platform and on their website:
And here’s the Liberal’s position on pensions from the other day, as it still reads on Carolyn Bennett’s website:
Anyone spot the difference? Yep – that’s right. Notice how the Liberal promise to increase CPP Premiums – a regressive tax increase that would be paid by every Canadian (and that would be necessary, in any case, to fund the proposed increase mentioned in the platform even as it stands) has disappeared down the memory hole?
Also, for anyone making a big deal about the supposed willingness of Mr. Ignatieff to “take questions”, let me point out that I asked about this proposal to raise taxes on all Canadians. Didn’t hear back from the open and honest leader of the opposition.
I’ve already commented on the Liberal decision to prioritize teaching our military French over making sure the they’re well-equipped, so I’ll skip forward to the question of the numbers contained within the platform released by the Liberals today. There’s no delicate way to put this, so I won’t try: they’re lies.
I know, I know, I’m as shocked as you are that the Liberal Party would attempt to rest its plan to spend more of your money on all of its pet programs on a series of deceptions but, nonetheless, it’s absolutely true.
Let’s begin with the most fundamental of these numbers – the money that the Liberals expect to get as additional revenue from raising corporate taxes. The Liberal platform expects $8.3 Billion in additional revenue from this for the first two years alone. As I’m sure you’ll hear from other sources, this sort of straight-line accounting, especially in this area, is simply not credible – corporate money is mobile and will respond to taxation rates. If the Liberals want to be transparent, they ought to explain how they arrived at this number.
Second, even if we accept these numbers as being fundamentally sound as displayed, they’re equally – and obviously – fundamentally dishonest.
Notice that they’ve only provided two years numbers in their charts, even though most of these increases are meant to be permanent in nature. In fact, they’ve only provided two year charts even though some of these spending commitments (arts, child care notably) don’t kick in fully until later years in their plan. There’s a good reason for this – it’s because even their artificially low spending and artificially high revenue numbers will, if you project an increase in costs and add in the promised future increases in spending, eventually cross and result in either more deficit spending or higher taxes.
Actually, it’s worse than that. If you read the numbers carefully, you’ll note than $500 Million in funding is slated to come from revenue from the auction of part of the Canadian wireless spectrum. In another Liberal budgeting gimmick the Liberals plan to take this one-time revenue windfall and use it to support permanent spending. The end result will be that, once that money is gone, we’ll be left with another big hole to fill.
The Liberal platform is so unserious a document that it actually contains, side by side, proposals to put all military procurement on hold – and to spend $40 Million over just two years in order to put more effort into teaching French to service members. I’m not making this up – it’s on page 84 and 85 of the platform.
I really don’t think that there’s anything that can better sum up how unserious about the world the Liberal Party is than that. In the Liberal mind, apparently, it’s more important for wounded soldiers to be able to curse the people who deployed them ill-equipped on thoughtless and pointless missions (see the “Responsibility to Protect” nonsense of the previous pages) in French than it is for them to be prepared to win battles. How absolutely disgusting.
You know, after every election the conservatives of this country tend to let me down by backing down and equivocating far more than I’d like. But then, at every election, the Liberals suck me right back in by reminding me of how many reasons I have to hate them.
While I believe that all forms of wealth redistribution are pernicious, this vicious doctrine takes on its most destructive form when it envisions the transfer of wealth from the young to the old. At every election the parties – and the supposedly non-partisan groups – mount their soapboxes to demand that the young get out and vote for bread and peace, and there are countless contests and other babbling efforts by half-literate celebrities to drive youth voting, but the truth is that there is no better reason, in our increasingly-aging society, for young people to vote than to ensure that wealth of the future does not become a slave of the past.
Now I am sure that some will object to this line of thought. Do we not, as a generation, owe some sort of moral duty to the elderly? The sentimentalists will undoubtedly evoke the images of the Greatest Generation, having struggled through war and depression, suffering hardships in the final years if we do not consent to ever-greater spending on pensions and the like. But, ladies and gentlemen, as sad as it may be to say – the Greatest Generation is passing into history. The youngest veteran of the Second World War must now be over eighty. When we are talking about increased spending on pensions and the like in the coming years we are talking about an increased transfer of wealth from young taxpayers today to a group that will soon overwhelmingly consist of aged Baby Boomers.
Let’s be very frank on this point. The Baby Boomers, as a generation, had every chance in the world. They are passing on to their children a world which, in many ways, is worse than the one that they inherited. Taxation and debt are their great legacies to us. The most selfish generation would, I am certain, like to claim that their youthful activism somehow changed the world but, in the end, any careful examination of the record reflects that practically every positive social change that occurred – even those emerging from the morass of the 1960’s and 1970’s – was actually authored by members of earlier generations.
Let me tell you who the Baby Boomers who are going to be draining our resources in the coming years are – that is to say those who have not, over a long period of prosperity, made adequate provisions for their own retirement and who will be making constant and increasing demands of the rest of us. The story of my aunt is the story of that portion of that generation in microcosm. My aunt has never held a steady job in her life. Most of her income has, over a span of decades, come from filing petty lawsuits. My Grandfather, already an adult, lost everything to the Japanese internment. By the time that my Grandmother died, half a decade ago, his estate – consisting mostly of a Vancouver-area home – had managed to grow to have a substantial value.
When it came time to divide the estate, we discovered that there was effectively no estate – my Aunt having had the house secretly transferred into her name several years earlier. Incidentally my Aunt, now the owner of a house worth the better part of a million dollars, had my Grandmother placed into a home during her final days at government expense. She then had the supreme gall to actually sue the Provincial Government over the allegedly poor standard of care that she received. And then she proceeded to lose and/or squander all of the money that she had stolen and was soon being sued for unpaid debts by a major Canadian bank.
I would note that my aunt is just now of pension age, but that’s largely irrelevant because she’s been on disability and/or some other form of government assistance for as long as I can remember. Obviously, to say that I hate her would be an extreme understatement. I’m just thankful that her only daughter is a lesbian and so, therefore, this deformed branch of the family tree will perish with the two of them. I tell this story not merely for hate’s sake, but because I feel that it’s such an effective illustration of the entire arc of the story of so many Baby Boomers. Having squandered their patrimony, they will now seek to sustain themselves by robbing the next generation – and probably their more responsible peers as well.
So now we find ourselves at a point where some, such as the Liberals under Mr. Ignatieff, actually are proposing to raise taxes on working people – that is to say people like you and me – in order to transfer money to the old. I’ll note further that this scheme, and I have no doubt that the same will hold true for all future schemes of this sort, will certainly be of no benefit for responsible Baby Boomers such as my parents – people who will have income for retirement – but will instead go mostly to fund the further idle years of dissolute individuals such as my aunt.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the sort of outrage that ought to make the young vote. Forget the environment. Forget trendy and lame “rock the vote” efforts. If you want to make young people vote you have to make it crystal clear to them that they will soon find themselves robbed blind by the people who do. Let those among the young whose eyes are clear join us in the revolt of the Great Productive Majority (hopefully) against the looters. Let us state this with certainty: if the young do not vote in great numbers against this sort of vote trading conspiracy they will quickly found themselves bound by permanent financial obligations that will be very difficult to undo.
Understand this: the welfare state is economically unsustainable. And, while people can live in a fantasyland for a very long time when they are, like my aunt, living off the surpluses generated by better people there will still always come a day of reckoning where fantasy will collide with the laws of fixed numbers. Even current benefits are not sustainable into the indefinite future. They will, if we do not aim to be ruined by the cost of caring for a massive idle class, have to be rolled back somehow. If we do not dig in here, then we’re going to have to fight for this ground yard-by-yard in a vast financial Battle of the Somme.
So, over just the first few days of the campaign the Liberals have already made over $3.2 Billion in spending promises for just the first year of a new Liberal government. You’ll often see these numbers thrown up against the supposed cost of $30 Billion – up until roughly the middle of the century – to deploy and maintain F-35 fighters. But then, of course, the idea of accounting for government spending promises over a single year is absurd. As Ronald Reagan once reminded us, a government bureau is the closest thing that we’ll ever see to eternal life on this earth.
A better way of looking at the Liberal spending promises – just over the first few days of the campaign – is to ask what, given a modest rate of growth, they’ll cost over the same timeframe that the $30 Billion estimated cost of the F-35 covers. That is to say, let’s go ahead and estimate the cost of these things – assuming a 5% annual growth rate – between now and the middle of the century.
If you add these numbers up, you’ll find that the cost – over that timeframe – of the Liberals’ pension increases, Family Care Plan, Education passport, food plan spending, and daycare spending would be something like $434.5 Billion.
In an earlier post I noted that it was $200-something billion. But I’ve since increased the estimates to match the actual timeframe covered by the quoted F-35 estimates (the cost between now and the middle of the century) versus merely projecting over thirty years.
Of course, these numbers assume that the cost of the Liberals spending plans stay close to original estimates. How many social spending schemes have ever done that?
To put it another way, the cost of the proposed Liberal increase in the Old Age Supplement over this period of time – using an artificially low estimate of a 5% annual increase in costs – is $85.36 Billion. And the Liberals want you to be outraged over a high-end estimate of $30 Billion to fund the main air combat arm of the Canadian Forces over the same period?
The attempt by the Liberal Party, from Michael Ignatieff on down, to turn Canada’s purchase of F-35 fighters into an election issue is a stupid and despicable effort to exploit the limited military knowledge of most Canadians in a way that, over the long-term, can only be harmful to Canada’s national security. I knew the old Michael Ignatieff – the academic that wrote thoughtfully on a number of issues before he decided to come back to be Prime Minister – and I know that he isn’t a stupid man. That makes the absurdly exploitatively demagoguery in which his party is engaged over this issue all the worse.
Let’s begin with the numbers. People are throwing around this $30 Billion figure. First of all, that’s a high-end cost figure. The government says it will be around $10 Billion less. Second of all, that’s a cost stretched out over thirty years. To put it another way – if you take the promises that the Liberals have made only over the first few days of the campaign and talk about them in the same terms – their cost over thirty years – than a low-end estimate is that the Liberals have already promised to spend $251 Billion over the next thirty years on their own programs – more than eight times the hypothetical high-end cost of this program.
So, really, we’re talking – again at the high end – about something like $1 Billion a year to fund the entire principal combat element of the air component of the Canadian Forces. I don’t think that’s a remotely unreasonable figure – unless you’re opposed to the concept of the Canadian Forces altogether.
If you want to have that argument, fine. But that’s not the one being put forward by the Liberal Party – or most opponents of the F-35. The plain truth is that even in the era of the Second World War, when military construction was much quicker and cheaper, Canadians lost many lives because we were militarily unprepared. The sophisticated nature of modern military equipment means that, if it should ever come to a crisis and we are caught totally unprepared, we won’t be able to acquire aircraft such as the F-35 at any price because of the limited global manufacturing capacity for such items. Does anyone want to give odds that, in our increasingly-dangerous world, there absolutely will not be an occasion during the next three or four decades where we will not require the services of fighters? I am not.
But, then, neither is the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party does not propose that we do not require an Air Force. Neither, for that matter, do they have an obvious alternative. That’s because this is a policy driven not by a reasoned assessment of alternatives, but by a cheap and reflexive effort to exploit those who know little of military affairs of others with pacifistic leanings. The alternative offered by the Liberals isn’t not to buy new aircraft – everyone knows that we need them – but rather to hold a new “competition.” This is an option that only sounds reasonable if you know absolutely nothing about the current global line-up of military hardware on offer.
That’s because, when you look at it, there is no realistic alternative for us to purchase. The only better aircraft out there in the world than the F-35 these days is the F-22 which, as it so happens, is not only significantly more expensive but, given the end of American production of the plane, is probably not available for sale at any price. For any number of reasons, we can’t buy Russian aircraft (the most obvious being the potential for the cut-off of spares during a crisis). So, if we were to hold a competition for an alternative aircraft, that leaves us with two possible alternative aircraft: the F/A-18E/F SuperHornet and the Eurofighter.
Both the SuperHornet and the Eurofighter are notably less capable than the F-35. In military terms, they’re both 4.5 Generation aircraft, whereas the F-35 – with its advanced stealth capabilities – is a Fifth Generation one. The primary difference is stealth and survivability. That’s why pretty much everyone who can buy the F-35 is buying it. More to the point, the Eurofighter is actually significantly more expensive than the F-35 and the SuperHornet, while its fly-away price for the US Navy is marginally cheaper ($60 Million versus $70 Million) than what we’re paying for the F-35 is notably less capable even today, let alone in 2040 or 2050 (which is how long we’re talking about keeping these planes in the field for). The best Liberal alternative is that we might save a few billion dollars over three decades in exchange for having aircraft whose basic design is eighty years old still flying at the middle of the century.
We’ve seen this film before. In 1993 the Liberals promised to scrap Canada’s purchase of EH-101 Helicopters to replace our aging Sea Kings. The end result of that disastrous decision was not only the government paying a $500 Million cancellation fee but that, eighteen years later, we’re still in the process of buying replacements that will actually cost us more money than the original deal would have. And, of course, all that happened in the meantime is that some of those aged helicopters just fell out of the sky – hardly too high a price to pay for a few more votes for the Liberal Party.