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June 27th, 2019

New Democrats Call for Bolstering Our Economy and Jobs Through Building Fighter Jets in Canada

OTTAWA – On Thursday, NDP Defence Critic Randall Garrison called on Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to use a made in Canada approach to replace Canada’s aging CF-18 fighter jets. New Democrats continue to support a fully open and transparent competition to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s aging CF-18 fighter jets, but one which encourages bidders to provide the best value for money for Canada.

“Purchasing new fighter jets provides us a unique opportunity for getting jets which meet Canadian needs and at the same time help sustain a healthy aerospace industry in Canada. That’s why I am calling on the Government today to set criteria for the upcoming competition that will prioritize the defence of Canadian territory and provide maximum benefits to the Canadian aerospace industry by giving extra weight to bidders willing to build those jets in Canada,” said Garrison.

“Any fighter jet must demonstrate the ability to operate throughout Canada’s unique geography, including the Arctic, especially given recent threats to Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic by other major air powers,” added Garrison. “And just as the National Shipbuilding Strategy has bolstered Canada’s domestic shipbuilding industry, the CF-18 replacement jets could be built in Canada, providing much needed jobs in the Canadian aerospace industry in cities like Montreal and Winnipeg.”

Successive Conservative and Liberal governments have failed to meet the needs of Canada’s Air Force, with the CF-18s being pushed well past their normal operating life-span. It is questionable whether the Liberal purchase of used Australian fighters will have any significant impact on extending the life of our current fleet.

“New Democrats welcome the upcoming competition, even though it remains hard to understand how this Liberal government could have taken four years to get it started,” said Garrison. “While this Liberal government has been dithering, other nations like Denmark have held a competition, selected a jet, and will be taking deliveries long before Canada even gets over the start line.”

New Democrats strongly encourage the government to prioritize purchasing fighter jets with Arctic capability while maintaining interoperability with our allies.

“Weighing the competition toward a priority on Artic capabilities, and production in Canada shouldn’t exclude any of the likely bidders, especially as two have already indicated building the jets in Canada is feasible,” pointed out Garrison. “Our women and men in uniform deserve the best equipment and supports possible to carry out the difficult and dangerous work we ask of them. This is an opportunity to meaningfully renew the Royal Canadian Air Force and to grow the high-tech manufacturing sector of our economy at the same time.”