Embassy magazine has what in most respects is a half-decent discussion of a key problem in the ongoing F-35 fighter saga: the Department of National Defence’s failure to disclose a summary of national needs which the F-35 (or any other fighter, for that matter) would have to meet. Instead, Canadians have been subjected to a relentless marketing campaign by the civilian government and by the military generals, who are, oddly, unencumbered by the usual restrictions on political advocacy by public servants. Even without holding a public competition for Canada’s largest military purchase ever, you’d think DND could at least identify what needs the F-35 is filling, and Embassy is right to rap them on the knuckles for it.
Where I have a problem with this article (yet again), though, is Embassy‘s failure to be genuinely inclusive. The “back and forth” method is cheap journalism, which is why it’s increasingly popular on everything from CBC to Fox News: introduce a topic, quote one person on one “side” of the issue, then someone from the other “side.” Seldom is the media so obvious in playing the role, as Noam Chomsky puts it, of defining the outer limits of “acceptable” or legitimate thought on an issue. The problem, in this case, is that both “experts” — Adam Chapnick and David J. Bercuson — are actually being paid by the military that wants to buy the jets in the first place. Chapnick actually says the military shouldn’t need to make public any need for fighter jets — every party should accept it in private and then present a done deal to the public. Embassy does not identify the potential for conflicts of interest here, or explain why it couldn’t find someone with an opinion who was independent from the military.Tweet