The problem was the projected lifespan of the Harper government. Inside DND and the CF bets were that it wasn't going to last. Further, they worried that Harper was a one-off event. Most of the middle-ranked CF felt that Harper had a lifespan of about 18 months and that once gone, he would likely be replaced by another Liberal minority, only this time, not led by Martin who had favoured rebuilding the CF as a modern, well-equipped outfit.Read on, they thought Liberals would be gun shy after the Chretien helicopter cancellation. They were trying to get the F-35 locked in. All of which is again begging the question on negligent civilian oversight.
So ... they made a run for the end zone. To put it the way one correspondent put it to me, they cut a lot of stuff out, but they highlighted some big ticket items. One of the things they highlighted was the F-35 project and they noted that the 2002 MOU, despite the fact that it did not involve purchasing, had already cost the government over $150 million. The very vague "procurement" line in the MOU was put forward as meaning, we're going to buy. Right? Is there a need for a long, drawn-out competition among planes which really don't measure up to this bright, shiny new thing?
Elsewhere today on the F-35 radar: Peter MacKay did his level best to explain why withholding $10 billion in F-35 costs from the Canadian people was justified. It was all about accounting and not including things like pilot salaries and fuel costs and maintenance. Boy, those pilots sure are expensive, hey? What are they, a couple hundred thou a year? A few million? Love the way that one in particular gets curiously itemized out in MacKay's spin. Again with the hiding behind the military thing, in a subtle way, as they nevertheless have been pointing the finger at DND. Just another day of black is white, up is down, day is night for the Harper crew.