What exactly is an F-35?
It’s a new fighter jet being manufactured by Lockheed Martin. Its full name is the Joint Strike Fighter F-35 Lightning II. We probably shouldn’t be at all concerned that this sounds like something a little boy would name his tricycle.
What’s this got to do with Canada?
All the cool countries are getting F-35s, so we’re buying some too. In fact, our Department of National Defence wanted this hip new toy so badly that it structured the procurement process to ensure no other jet could win. In 2010, the Conservative government dutifully announced plans to purchase 65 F-35 fighters, at a cost of $9 billion. On one hand, that sounds like a lot of money, but on the other hand, why do you hate our troops, first hand?
[. . .]
Doesn’t $9 billion seem like a reasonable price for basically a whole new air force?
Did the government say $9 billion? It meant $15 billion, by which it actually meant $25 billion.
Wait — why have the numbers changed?
That meddling Auditor General of ours happened to notice that National Defence low-balled the total cost of the F-35 program by the teeny-tiny amount of ten thousand million dollars.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay said this was “a matter of accounting.” What he meant was that he and his cabinet colleagues were “a-counting” on Canadians not catching on to the fact they were concealing some $10,000,000,000 in costs.
That’s a lot of zeroes.
I’ll thank you not to refer to members of the federal cabinet that way.