Trudeau Backtracks on Poll Pledge of Not Pursuing F-35 Fighter Jet Deal Amid Pressure From NATO

© Mass Communication Specialist 3r(Jan. 13, 2022) An F-35C Lightning II, assigned to the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA 147), prepares to recover on the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Jan. 13, 2022.
(Jan. 13, 2022) An F-35C Lightning II, assigned to the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA 147), prepares to recover on the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Jan. 13, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.03.2022
Canada's purported plan to pursue American F-35 jets comes amid sustained pressure from NATO allies to increase the nation's defence spending to 2 percent of its GDP by 2024. Trudeau's federal ally, the National Democratic Party (NDP), which this month sealed a political pact to prop up the Liberals, has described NATO's request as "arbitrary".
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government is facing criticism over its decision to pick Lockheed Martin as the preferred supplier of 88 fighter jets for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

A statement from Canada's Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi on Monday said that the RCAF would potentially get 88 F-35 fighter jets as part of a deal worth around $15 billion. The defence procurement is the biggest for Canada's armed forces in over three decades, as per Ottawa.

Canadian Minister for National Defence Anita Anand said that the potential acquisition of F-35s will deliver the "best results" for the country in the decades to come.

"This procurement project for the RCAF will help ensure Canada can continue to defend North America, enhance our Arctic sovereignty, and meet our NATO and NORAD [North American Aerospace Defence Command, a joint surveillance and defence system with the US] obligations in the face of current and emerging threats", Anand said.

The decision comes amid the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation calling upon Canada and other members to increase their respective defence budgets in view of the security crisis in Ukraine, where Russia has launched a "special military operation" aimed at seeking a guarantee from Kiev that it won't become an ally of the military bloc.
"We have an agreement and I expect all allies, also Canada, to follow up on that — that we should aim at two percent of GDP, because we live in a world which is more dangerous", NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this month.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sits as he meets Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Warsaw, Poland, March 10, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.03.2022
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Yet, it isn't lost on many Canadians that Trudeau had earlier opposed the F-35 fighter jet deal and vowed to look for a "cheaper alternative" while he was the leader of the opposition in 2015.
Criticising the government's announcement, former Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) leader Erin O'Toole remarked that the "Liberals can't be trusted on national defence".
Several political observers were equally critical of the Liberal government's announcement.

"[The] Liberals decision to buy F-35 fighter jets breaks an explicit promise. It's a boon to US arms manufacturers, takes resources away from transitioning off of fossil fuels, and significantly expands Canada's capacity to cause death and destruction abroad", stated Yves Ingler, an author based in Quebec.

"There is an elegant poetry to Canada cancelling plans to buy the F-35, wasting 10 years studying what plane to get instead, and then buying the F-35 anyway", said political columnist Tristin Hopper.
The acquisition of fifth-generation F-35 fighter aircraft has proven to be a touchy issue in Canadian politics since 2010, when the then minority Conservative government of Stephen Harper announced a plan to enter into an agreement with Lockheed Martin for the purchase of 65 F-35 jets at a cost of $9 billion.
Canada is one of eight countries, that since 1997, has been investing in a Joint Strike Fighter Programme, which provides "guaranteed access" to the F-35, as per an official statement.
The Harper government faced a no-confidence motion in the Canadian Parliament over its reported refusal to release the costs associated with the deal, leading to its collapse and triggering a snap election. The Conservatives returned to power with a majority.
However, in 2015, the Liberal opposition under Trudeau made scrapping the F-35 deal agreed upon by the Harper administration one of its election promises. In fact, the Liberals' election manifesto in 2015 stated that "we will not buy the F-35 stealth fighter-bomber".

"The Conservative government never actually justified or explained why they felt Canada needed a fifth-generation fighter. They just talked about it, like it was obvious. It was obvious, as we saw through the entire process, that they were particularly, and some might say unreasonably or unhealthily, attached to the F-35 aircraft", Trudeau said in 2015 ahead of federal elections, which he eventually won.

After launching a renewed bidding process to acquire new fighter jets in 2017, the Trudeau government zeroed in on two bidders in December 2020 — Swedish company Saab's Gripen E aircraft and Lockheed Martin Corp.
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