Liberals mismanage defence procurement

By CONSERVATIVE MP JAMES BEZAN      

Justin Trudeau is making a mess of military procurement. He and his Liberal government continue to mismanage and underfund the Canadian Armed Forces. Trudeau is failing to provide the equipment the Canadian Armed Forces needs to defend Canada at home and abroad.

The Trudeau government isn’t taking Canada’s national defence seriously. Things have gotten so bad that members of the Canadian Armed Forces have had to return their sleeping bags and rucksacks due to equipment shortages. It is clear that the men and women who serve this country are not a priority for this Liberal government.

We saw this coming over the course of the Liberals’ first two record setting deficit budgets, when the one department the Liberals did cut was National Defence. In addition to the billions cut, lapsed and punted down the road in the defence budget during the first two years of Trudeau’s mandate, the Prime Minister is now underspending his brand new defence policy by $2.3-billion in its very first year.

There is no better example of this Liberal mismanagement than Justin Trudeau’s decision to purchase used F-18 fighter jets from Australia. Prime Minister Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan are trying to justify this interim purchase by unilaterally changing decades old defence policy by saying the Royal Canadian Air Force cannot meet both its NORAD and NATO commitments simultaneously, thus creating their fabricated ‘capability gap’.

This so called ‘capability gap’ is not a military creation, but rather a political one aimed at providing cover for Prime Minister Trudeau for his misguided campaign promises. A study by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute found that 67.5 per cent of defence experts say that there is no capability gap.

When Justin Trudeau first announced his fabricated capability gap, my colleagues and I wrote the auditor general asking that he immediately investigate this issue. The Office of the Auditor General has been looking into the Liberals’ claim that the Royal Canadian Air Force is facing a fighter jet capability gap. It is my hope that the auditor general investigation is unimpeded by the Liberal government and his report this fall will shine a light on both the Liberals’ asinine capability gap policy and their unnecessary and wasteful interim purchase.

As part of Justin Trudeau’s mismanagement on the fighter jet file is the Liberal government’s exacerbated timeline for the complete replacement for our fleet of aging CF-18s. The Liberals have stated that the competition to select the replacement for our CF-18’s will end in 2021-2022. While other countries have held a competition to select a replacement for their legacy fighter jets in about a year, Trudeau will potentially take several years to select a new fighter. There is absolutely no justification or excuse why a competition like this would take up to seven years.

Justin Trudeau is also failing to build new warships for the Royal Canadian Navy. We’ve already seen numerous delays in the shipbuilding program because of the Liberal government’s mismanagement. This includes repeated extensions to the design competition for the Canadian Surface Combatant.  Now documents that were recently made public state that Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government are looking to ‘refresh’ the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

This comes after already massive delays in the process to select Canada’s new surface combatants. Repeated extensions in the process to select a new ship design have cost taxpayers millions of dollars while pushing the delivery date for completed ships even further in the future.

Any gaps in the surface combatants’ production schedule is first and foremost a creation of Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government. This is completely unacceptable to both the families of the workers at the shipyards as well as to Canadian taxpayers who, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office, will be saddled with increased costs. Conservatives will continue holding Justin Trudeau to account and ensuring that Canada’s shipbuilding program achieves its goals of producing warships for the Royal Canadian Navy, while supporting high paying jobs for Canadians.

The National Shipbuilding Strategy doesn’t need a ‘refresh’. The Liberals have to stop manipulating the process, quit being so risk adverse and make a selection. But the Liberals can’t help themselves. It’s in their DNA. They are famous for dithering and delaying when it comes to military procurement.

The men and women who bravely serve our country deserve better than the Trudeau government which has failed to deliver on a single major military procurement. They deserve better than a government which continually cuts defence spending. And they deserve better than this Liberal government which fails to prioritize the Canadian Armed Forces.

Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives will ensure that those who serve our country day in and day out are equipped with the necessary resources, while working towards meeting our NATO commitments.

Conservative MP James Bezan, who represents Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman, Man., is his party’s defence critic. 

The Hill Times