This week began with a significant announcement from the government that $19 billion will be spent to acquire 88 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, in a deal that will require a further $70 billion in related maintenance costs over the lifetime of the aircraft.
You may recall these are the same F-35s that (then Liberal leader and then Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau made comments ranging from “We will not buy the F-35 stealth fighter bomber” to the F-35 “did not work” and that “It no longer makes sense, if it ever did, to have a stealth, first-strike capacity fifth-generation fighters.”
Trudeau’s opposition to the F-35 was to the point that he stated, “For Canadian taxpayers it will be a nightmare".
As a member of the official Opposition, I will not criticize the announcement to purchase the F-35s, aside from pointing out Trudeau’s politically motivated hypocrisy in opposing this aircraft back in 2015.
Our current fleet of CF-18 (fighter aircraft) entered service in 1982 and are now more than 40 years old.
Aside from the age and added maintenance costs, the Royal Canadian Air Force also reports pilot recruitment challenges in part because of the lack of an advanced, modern-day aircraft to fly.
The F-35 is an advanced fighter jet that is also used by many of Canada’s allies, including the United States.
I supported the decision by the former Conservative government to back the F-35 and I likewise support the current Liberal government in finally recognizing the former Conservative government was correct in believing the F-35 is the best aircraft to replace our fleet of aging CF-18s.
Another topic that has come out of Ottawa of late relates to the explosive growth in the use of private consultants by the government.
For some background, in 2015 Trudeau promised, as reported by the National Post, to save billions by reducing the use of external consultants. Flash forward to this week, and reports that the government has increased the use of private consultants by close to 60% since 2015.
At the same time the government is significantly outsourcing work to private consultants, it has also grown the size of the public service from 342,000 employees in 2015/16 to 391,000 employees in 2020/21.
This, in turn, has raised annual payroll costs from just under $40 billion to more than $60 billion.
Despite this significant growth in the size of the federal public service and increased use of private consultants, many Canadians will know that accessing public services ,such as obtaining a passport or immigration, has rarely taken longer.
In response to this, the Opposition will put forward a motion to the government’s operations committee, that will require the government to produce all written records related to a specific contractor, including contracts, conversations, records of work done, meetings held and more. The Opposition believes this information should be studied and made public.
Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre has stated: “We think that when you have qualified public servants to do the job, we should not be contracting out the same work to high-priced consultants who charge more. By contracting everything out, you end up paying more. We intend to bring that work in-house.”
My question this week:
Do you share concerns of Pierre Poilievre and the Opposition about the growing use of private consultants by the government?
I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.