By John Geddes - Friday, December 7, 2012 - 0 Comments
After a flurry of subtly conflicting stories, the most likely next step in the federal government’s hopelessly bungled program to buy Canada some new fighter jets now looks like the appointment next week of an expert panel, which will be asked to survey the available options.
To the blissfully uninitiated, that must sound blandly sensible. To the rest of us, the panel’s very existence will finally refute and rebuke several years of insistence by Conservative politicians and Department of National Defence officials that Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was the only plausible jet for Canada’s future needs. No point, they told us, to look any further.
But if the naming of an independent panel represents the welcome injection of a more open-minded approach, its creation alone doesn’t guarantee either of two developments that critics of the F-35 are hoping for: it doesn’t mean the F-35 is out of the running and it doesn’t mean the government will ultimately hold a competitive bidding process for the new jets.