Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sleeper issue

From this Globe item on a presentation at the Liberal caucus meeting in Baddeck, a Liberal pollster highlights the fighter jet purchase as a "sleeper" issue for Canadians:
The sleeper issue, however, is that of the spending billions of dollars on fighter jets.

Mr. Marzolini noted there is confusion as to why Canada needs to purchase the stealth-capable aircraft. Focus groups are asking: “What do we need them for?”

The pollster even drew a few laughs with a Star Trek reference when he said these futuristic jets might be useful if “al-Qaeda ever became allies with the Klingons.”
There are arguments to be made about the untendered nature of the contract, about the timing of the replacement of the CF-18s, for sure. But those are nitpicking arguments. What's interesting is the additional suggestion here from Marzolini that Canadians are open to bold arguments about the choice itself. Whether the big military purchase fits with Canada's defence needs and whether the purchase has been justified by the government. At a cost of $16 billion, the purchase has big implications for budget priorities and the choices that Canadians want to make right now. Lots of room to run with this issue and it's notable to see it being framed as such.

Update (6:40 p.m.): Just saw this, Canadian Press report on the Air Force chief defending the purchase today. Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose is noted as stumping on the deal today as well. Shaping up to be a big issue in the fall.