The Senate’s defence committee is recommending the Trudeau government forget about buying an interim fleet of Boeing Super Hornet jet fighters and focus all of its energy on replacing the air force’s entire fleet of CF-18s.
And the committee’s report, released Monday, strongly suggests the replacement warplane should be the controversial F-35 stealth fighter, which the governing Liberals specifically rejected in the last election campaign.
Aside from putting itself at odds with current government policy, the report is recommending a sweeping military buildup that far outstrips what the previous Conservative government recommended during its decade in office.
Significantly, the report is receiving bipartisan approval, with senators appointed under Liberal administrations giving it their blessing.
“I am comfortable supporting this report,” said Senator Mobina Jaffer, the committee’s co-chair, when asked if she has reservations about going against her own party on the issue of fighter jets.
“Things have changed,” she added. “If we don’t really deal with the issues of underfunding in the defence, and if we don’t look at issues head on, we will really become a weaker partner; weaker than what we are. And the time has come now when we really have to stand up to our responsibilities.”
The report lays down a political marker ahead of the planned release of the Liberal government’s new defence policy review and this month’s NATO leader’s summit, where U.S. President Donald Trump is expected arm-twist allies into approving bigger defence budgets.
A previous analysis by the same committee released a few weeks ago, noted that Canada is currently at an historic low in defence spending — at roughly .88 per cent of gross domestic product. It recommended the federal government lay out a plan to increase that spending to two per cent of GDP over an 11-year period.
Free ride over
Conservative Senator Daniel Lang said the report doesn’t have a price tag…