Thursday, February 17, 2011

Costs of F-35 PR campaign roll in

David Pugliese has another piece on the F-35 issue today, detailing some of the costs thus far for the government's F-35 public relations campaign. Overtime for Defence public servants in Ottawa, travel costs, etc. for the cross-country tour point to a figure of $200,000 thus far which sounds like a conservative estimate.

One of the other intangible costs referenced is the politicization of the military that's going on through their involvement in the F-35 sales job and that is being objected to by some Defence personnel, probably the most notable part of the report:
Senior officers from Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk to air force chief Lt.-Gen. Andre Deschamps have promoted the Conservative government's decision. In the latest issue of the Canadian Military Journal, Deschamps defends the government's decision not to hold a competition to buy a new plane.

Defence Department sources have told the Ottawa Citizen some officers have been uncomfortable with the situation but the military is being pressured by the Privy Council Office and the Prime Minister's Office to spearhead the sales effort.

The presentations being given follow government-approved "talking points" on the F-35 purchase and highlight among other things, the chance for Canadian jobs in the deal.
Of course the military shouldn't be used to sell the jobs aspect on this or really, any aspect of it. It paints them a certain partisan stripe and clearly, they're uncomfortable with it. And it is a sales job, injecting the military into a highly political debate, it's not the innocent information campaign spun by the government spokesman here.

At least the military discontent is being aired publicly and we're told exactly where the pressure is coming from, Stephen Harper's direction. Yes, he's a Defence Minister too.

Like the presidential airs, the attack ad politics, using guns as a wedge issue, politicizing the military in this way is more creeping Americanization. It just doesn't suit us and it's good to learn that there are military objecting to this turn of events as well.