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EXCLUSIVE: Leaked National Defence Docs show bureaucrats rigging fighter replacement

The Western Standard has received an 800-page leak from the Department of National Defence revealing a bureaucracy defying the elected arm of government over the CF-18 fighter jet replacement.

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This is part 1 in an ongoing Western Standard feature examining leaked F-18 fighter replacement program documents.

OTTAWA, ON: The Western Standard has received an 800-page leak from the Department of National Defence revealing a bureaucracy defying the elected arm of government over the CF-18 fighter jet replacement. With tens of billions of taxpayer dollars on the line, the documents raise serious questions about Cabinet’s ability to manage major procurements. 

The leaked Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP) draft was received with a simple question attached, “does this look rigged for the F-35?”

The short answer is “yes.” The request for proposal (RFP) in the documents was rigged to benefit the Lockheed Martin F-35.  This is another regrettable example of “Yes Minister” style antics in Canadian defence history, with top Defence bureaucrats leading the Defence Minister at best or openly defying his orders at worst.  This could have been avoided if the younger Trudeau only followed his father’s example instead of repeating his mistakes. 

The selection of the CP-140 under Pierre Trudeau in the 1970s did not go smoothly. Then Liberal Minister of Supply and Services Jean-Pierre Goyer accused one of the senior civil servants running the program of “gross negligence” and of “misinforming” cabinet before the minister had the civil servant removed from the project. Unwilling to repeat the mistakes of the CP-140 procurement, Pierre Trudeau put in place several checks and balances on the New Fighter Aircraft (NFA) program. The NFA was designed with the clear goal of replacing the fighter jets we had with a new jet that met the technical requirements of the missions we flew at the best value with full industrial offsets. 

While the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) leadership insisted that the large and expensive F-15 was the right jet for Canada; the CF-18, the least expensive jet in the competition that met the minimum requirements, was selected as the winner. As history is fond of repetition, today’s RCAF clearly favours the F-35, the most expensive jet in the competition.

The new RFP demands capabilities far beyond what the CF-18 can deliver, both at home and abroad. The strike mission scenarios represent an unreasonably high number of points, include missions we have historically left to the Americans, and are clearly biased towards the F-35’s passive stealth advantages. In short, this RFP looks like it was written with inflated requirements to minimize the points score of the least expensive jet in the competition: the Saab Gripen-E. I believe this was done so that the Gripen can’t win in Canada like it won in Brazil.  

Liberal Defence MinisterHarjit Singh Sajjan

In Brazil’s fighter competition, the Gripen-E was rated as slightly less capable than the first place French Rafale, but the Gripen won because it offered full industrial benefits, would be assembled in Brazil by Embraer, and was the best value with a total cost of ownership half that of the Rafale. The Brazilian contest clearly demonstrated that the Swedish Gripen is the least expensive jet that can replace the CF-18, saving the Canadian taxpayer billions of dollars.

During the 2015 election, Trudeau promised to purchase a less expensive alternative to the F-35 and said that the savings would be directed toward Navy shipbuilding. While the CF-18 replacement program is ongoing, the Liberals have already increased shipbuilding commitments by tens of billions of dollars.

Originally five manufacturers were invited to participate. Thus far, the French (Dassault Rafale) and the British (Airbus Eurofighter) have walked away from the competition over issues with the RFP being biased towards the American F-35. With a minority government, the opposition will have to hold Trudeau and the bureaucrats at the Department of National Defence (DND) accountable.

The Green party made it clear that they would oppose any F-35 purchase.  Early in the campaign, the NDP said that they would only support a fighter that was made-in-Canada. With the other Europeans out, the Saab Gripen is the only jet in the competition that would be made in Canada.  Saab has an existing partnership with Bombardier and it’s likely that the Bloc represented riding of Mirabel would become home to a multi-billion-dollar Saab/Bombardier Gripen factory. With so many jobs on the line in Quebec, the Bloc has every incentive to pay close attention to this file.

Defence scholars Anton Bezglasnyy and Douglas Ross warned that the F-35 has the potential of being “the plane that ate the Canadian Navy.” Respect for the taxpayer and respect for the military are not mutually exclusive concepts in Sweden. They shouldn’t be in Canada.

This is part 1 in an ongoing Western Standard feature examining leaked F-18 fighter replacement program documents. 

Alex McColl has a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Calgary, where he wrote his capstone thesis “CF-39 Arrow II: A Swedish Solution to the CF-18 Replacement Problem” on the CF-18 replacement procurement.

Features

MAKICHUK: TOP SECRET – Meet the real-life James Bonds

“We haven’t had a female Bond in the films, but there are already lots in real life.”

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Like James Bond, they cross borders with fake identities and passports.

They operate in small isolated teams and have access to the full array of 007 gadgets designed by the spies’ Q section.

Its members are famed for not always looking like soldiers. Some speak different languages and can pass as foreign nationals.

The standing joke is that they could fit in at an embassy party or a whorehouse in Istanbul.

And just like Bond, they are all highly trained in firearms and hand-to-hand combat.

In fact, their training is considered “amazing even by SAS standards.”

But unlike the fictional 007 character, these assets don’t work for MI6, the famed British Secret Intelligence Service.

They are an elite section of the SAS, known as “The Increment.”

According to a report in the UK’s The Sun, the existence of the secret unit, “E Squadron,” was inadvertently confirmed this week when bungling Army top brass leaked the personal details of more than 70 Special Forces troops.

Buried deep in a spreadsheet of 1,200 soldiers’ names, trades and military units was a single reference to “22 SAS E SQN.”

It was the first written proof that the unit exists.

E Squadron is the fifth and newest limb of 22 SAS, the world’s most famous Special Forces regiment, whose motto is Who Dares Wins.

But its work is so secret that its troops are kept apart from the other four Sabre Squadrons, A, B, D and G, at their headquarters in Hereford, the Sun report said.

The squadron’s main task is to work with MI6 on top missions all over the globe.

SAS legend Andy McNab spent three years with the unit from 1991 to 1993, after his patrol in the first Gulf War which he wrote about in his book Bravo Two Zero.

He said the unit — which was hand-picked from the SAS — was “the closest to what James Bond does” of any British secret service.

But almost 30 years after he left, he said his work was still too secret to reveal, the Sun report said.

Another former member, who asked not to be named, said: “We were moving in and out of countries on different passports. Always in civvies, overseas all the time. It was busy.

“It was the James Bond stuff — use your imagination.”

The ex-member added: “You had to be able to blend in. People were picked for their ability to do undercover work.”

While some MI6 officers are firearms trained, it is never to the same level as their counterparts in E Squadron.

The former soldier said: “MI6 and MI5 are always distancing themselves from James Bond, saying they aren’t really like that. It’s true — spies aren’t like James Bond, they’re eggheads. Give them a gun, they wouldn’t know what to do with it.

“E Squadron solves that problem but they do a lot more as well.”

The places where they often have to work, using civilian cover identities, make it impossible to be armed, so they are all trained in deadly hand-to-hand combat, the Sun report said.

SAS author Chris Ryan served with Andy McNab on the 1991 Bravo Two Zero mission, in which a SAS patrol was deployed into Iraq during the first Gulf War to destabilize Saddam Hussein’s war strategy.

Says Ryan: “To be in the Increment is to be the best of the best.”

According to SOFREP.com, The Increment are strictly black ops — deniable missions that would be disavowed by the British government if compromised.

These could include:

  • Secret military assistance to foreign powers
  • Clandestine insertion and extraction of intelligence agents
  • Covert reconnaissance/intelligence gathering

Today E Squadron’s members are drawn from the three Tier One Special Forces units — the SAS, the SBS and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, the Sun report said.

The SBS provides specialist frogmen and mini-submersibles which can be used to insert teams undetected on foreign shores.

The SRR, whose soldiers specialize in plain-clothes surveillance operations around the world, provides a large number of women.

The unit was formed out of 14 Intelligence Company, which was known as the Det, and operated undercover in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles.

A source said: “Women are often the best at this sort of work. If a group of blokes turns up, it always looks suspicious.

“We haven’t had a female Bond in the films, but there are already lots in real life.”

The Increment’s troops were among the first British soldiers in Afghanistan, ahead of the US invasion in 2001.

They were also involved in the 2011 uprising in Libya which toppled Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the Sun said.

A former E Squadron soldier said the unit was heavily involved in Iraq in the run-up to the 2003 invasion.

He said: “E Squadron are military people. They have rules of engagement.

“Is it a licence to kill? It is certainly not carte blanche. But the nature of soldiering means it’s sometimes necessary to take life. Everyone is trained in deadly force.”

Dave Makichuk is a Western Standard contributor
He has worked in the media for decades, including as an editor for the Calgary Herald. He is also the military editor for the Asia Times.
makichukd@gmail.com

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Features

Why does this BC area have the rudest postal code in Canada?

The area of Canada that easily takes the title for most unfortunate postcode has to be a street in Delta East Central: V4G1N4 (VAGINA). 

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A U.K. online business — apparently with buckets of time on its hands — has researched and unveiled what it calls “Canada’s rudest” postal codes.

Research by Money.co.uk shows the most unusual and awkward postal codes (the wacky Brits called it a “postcode”) in Canada and the UK and looked at the potential it can have on house prices.

As every maple-syrup blooded Canuck knows, Canadian postal codes contain a six-digit string of numbers and letters to create the final outcome, if one ignores the hyphen that splits the codes 

Using numeronyms —words where a number is used to form an abbreviation — the Brits discovered some odd pairings.

For example, in Timmins, Ont. you’ll find the postcode P4N-1C5. Nothing too eye-popping there until you dissolve the hyphen and are left with P4N1C5 (PANICS).

M4X1M5  (MAXIM) is more associated with a mens’ mag, not a vibrant area of downtown Toronto.

In another example, one area of Winnipeg sports the R3L1C5 (RELICS) code. 

However, the area of Canada that easily takes the title for most unfortunate postcode has to be a street in Delta East Central: V4G1N4 (VAGINA). 

The Brit release noted with the average Canadian house price currently around $716,828, living in a postcode such as V4G1N4 may actually effect your house price. However, no proof of the claim was offered.

Here are the top 21 most unusual/amusing postcodes in Canada:
• B3G1N5 (begins) Eastern Passage, NS;

• B4N4N4 (banana) Kentville, NS;

• L1V1N6 (living) Pickering Southwest, ON:

• L3C3L5 (levels) Orilla, ON:

• L4G3R5 (lagers) Aurora, ON;

• M4G1C5 (magics) East York (Leaside), ON;

• M4L1C3 (malice) East Toronto (India Bazaar / The Beaches West), ON;

• M4R1N3 (marine) Central Toronto (North Toronto West), ON;

• P3N1L3 (penile) Greater Sudbury (Val Caron), ON;

• P4N1C5 (panics) Timmins Southeast, ON;

• R3J3C7 (reject) Winnipeg (St. James-Assiniboia SE), MB;

• R3L1C5 (relics) Winnipeg (River Heights East), MB;

• R3M0V3 (remove) Winnipeg (River Heights Central), MB;

• R3T1R3 (retire) Winnipeg (Fort Garry NE / University of Manitoba), MB;

• S3N1L3 (senile) Yorkton, SK;

• S7R0K3 (stroke) Saskatoon Northwest, SK;

• T1R1N6 (tiring) Brooks, AB;

• V1C4R5 (vicars) Cranbrook, BC;

• V1K1N6 (Viking) Merritt, BC;

• V1X3N5 (vixens) Kelowna East Central, BC;

V4G1N4 (vagina) Delta East Central, BC.

Mike D’Amour is the British Columbia Bureau Chief for the Western Standard.
mdamour@westernstandardonline.com

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Features

What you need to know about new Alberta government restrictions

“Once a medical mask exemption is presented by an employee from a medical professional, an employer is well advised to accept the exemption at face value without further inquiry.”

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Guest contribution from Jonathan Denis, former minister of justice and solicitor general of Alberta.

COVID-19 is a very divisive subject, and the laws and regulations around it can be confusing as they are both complex and often changing.  Our office (Guardian Law Group LLP) has been receiving increasing inquiries about the restrictions reintroduced by the Government of Alberta.

In response to rising daily infection rates – the so-called “fourth wave” – Premier Jason Kenney announced the new restrictions are as follows:

  1. Masks – Effective September 4, 2021, masks are mandatory for all indoor public spaces and workplaces until further notice.  Schools are not required to impose forced-masking, but school boards will continue to set their own COVID-19 management policies.

There are further requirements and exceptions to the province-wide forced-masking regulations:

  1. Children under two-years of age are exempt;
  2. Individuals who have a medical exemption from masks are required to obtain a medical exemption letter from a doctor, nurse practitioner, or psychologist.  This medical exemption letter may be presented when in a public setting if requested by law enforcement, or in Court if a ticket is issued. A non-exhaustive list of medical conditions for which mask exemptions are granted include sensory processing disorders, developmental delay, cognitive impairment, mental illness, facial trauma, recent oral surgery, allergic distractions, or respiratory distress (I.e. asthma).
  3. Human rights legislation adds a further layer of complexity. Employers are not permitted to ask an applicant or an employee about current or past medical conditions. Therefore, once a medical mask exemption is presented by an employee from a medical professional, an employer is well advised to accept the exemption at face value without further inquiry.
  • Early “Last call” – Also on the same date, restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, night clubs, and other licensed establishments are required to end alcohol service at 10 pm MST. 
  • Voluntary recommendations – 
  1. Gatherings for unvaccinated people: The province is recommending (but not yet requiring) that unvaccinated Albertans limit their indoor social gatherings to “close contacts” of only two cohort families to a maximum of 10 people.
    1. In-person work: The province is also recommending that plans for in-person return to work be paused and that employers revert to work-from-home where possible.  

There is no legal requirement for mandatory vaccination.  Vaccination info can be found at ahs.ca/vaccine.

The province is also providing incentives for a $1 million draw for those who have two shots which will close on September 23, 2021.  You can enter this draw at alberta.ca/lotterty.  There is also a lottery to win an outdoor adventure which can be entered at alberta.ca/outdoor-adventure-vaccine-lottery.aspx.  Lastly, the province is now offering a $100.00 payment to persons who receive a first or second dose between September 3 and October 14, 2021.

Disclaimer: This column is for information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.  We recommend that you follow all laws and regulations.  If you have questions about your rights and responsibilities, please consult a private lawyer.

Jonathan Denis, Q.C. is a partner at Guardian Law Group LLP in Calgary.  He previously served as a two-term MLA and in five cabinet roles, most notably as Alberta’s 23rd Minister of Justice, Solicitor General, and Attorney General.  He has made the choice to be vaccinated twice.

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