Vancouver resident Sarah Rohleder petitioned the House of Commons on Thursday to analyze the 'social justice' implications of purchasing F-35 fighter jets.
"The procurement of these fighter jets is antithetical to feminist foreign policy and diverts public funds away from necessary social programs like healthcare, education and housing," said Rohleder. "The F-35s are fossil fuel-powered, will emit greenhouse gasses and will exacerbate the climate crisis."
In March, the Trudeau Liberals agreed to replace the Canadian military's dated CF-18 fighters with Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters. Defence Minister Anita Anand said the procurement project provides Canada's Air Force with the tools necessary to "continue to defend North America, enhance our Arctic sovereignty and meet our NATO and NORAD obligations in the face of current and emerging threats."
The petition outlined the Trudeau Liberals would purchase 88 F-35 fighters. In March, the feds anticipated $19 billion in costs, but Anand said the cost would be "further refined."
According to the petition preamble, the F-35 fighters have a life cycle cost of $77 billion. The United States Government Accountability Office previously conveyed they are a "financial risk" with "high operation costs" and over 800 technical and performance setbacks.
The petitioner requested the House of Commons "conduct and publicize a comprehensive study on the financial, climate, environmental and social costs and risks of the F-35 fighter jets." But Rohleder argued that the feds should cancel the purchase and allocate funds to address climate action and people's well-being adequately.
NDP MP Lindsay Mathyssen sponsored the petition, which is accepting signatures until March 5.
Rohleder also claims the F-35 capability allows each stealth fighter to accommodate a B61-12 nuclear bomb, which she said violates Canadian commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. She said the jets pose a risk of adverse impacts on indigenous communities due to "extreme noise, excessive carbon emissions and damage to their traditional lands from weapons testing and air force bases."
According to two defence sources, the Department of National Defence received quiet approval in mid-December to spend $7 billion on 16 F-35 fighter jets and related gear. The Canadian Press independently verified the accuracy of a document summarizing this request to the Treasury Board.
Procurement Minister Helena Jaczek's office declined to comment on the Treasury Board approval. Lockheed Martin declined to comment, as did the US Defense Department's F-35 office, directing media to reach out to the Trudeau Liberals for comment.
The feds said they intend to purchase 88 new fighter jets to replace Canada's aging CF-18s between 2026 and 2032. The defence sources said Canada would purchase F-35s in blocks over the next few years, adding the apparent order ensures its procurement schedule remains on track.
According to sources, the Trudeau Liberals were set to announce the initial purchase in early December, but a formal announcement is expected sometime in January.
The funding approval came after months of negotiations with the US government and Lockheed Martin after the F-35 beat Sweden's Saab Gripen in a competition in early 2022.
News of the decision caught manufacturer Saab off guard, who said they remain committed to building the 88 aircraft requested at significantly less than the $19 billion budgeted.
As of Friday, 36 people have signed the petition, including 14 people from Ontario, 12 from British Columbia, four from Manitoba, three from Quebec, and one from Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
If the petition receives at least 500 signatures, the clerk of petitions will certify it for potential debate in the House of Commons.