The F-35 fighter jet has emerged as an issue in the upcoming election for prime minister of Canada.
Bloomberg News reports that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says supplier contracts linked to the F-35 program are vital to Canada’s manufacturers, throwing his support behind the program while his rival, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, says the aircraft are too expensive.
“We have been participating actively in the development of this plane,” Harper said Monday in St. Jacobs, Ontario. According to Bloomberg, he called Trudeau’s proposal to abandon the purchase “bad policy.”
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Harper’s Conservative government stepped back from a plan to buy the F-35s in 2012, citing rising costs in a report that said alternatives would be considered. The Canadian government had said in July 2010 that it would buy 65 F-35s to replace the country’s aging fleet of CF-18 Hornets.
Trudeau said Monday in Toronto if his Liberal Party is elected, he won’t buy the F-35s. “This government hasn’t been honest with Canadians about whether they have done due diligence,” he said.
On Sunday, Trudeau said he would instead “launch an open and transparent competition to replace the CF-18s,” and “we won’t purchase the F-35 stealth fighter-bomber.”
Polls suggest Harper, Trudeau and New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair are statistically tied heading into the Oct. 19 election.