The Trudeau government has missed the deadline for a multimillion-dollar payment that keeps Canada in the club of nations involved in the F-35 stealth fighter program, CBC News has learned.
The $32-million membership fee was due on May 31, but a spokeswoman for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan confirmed late Monday that the U.S. project office overseeing development of the highly complex jet has not received the instalment.
But Jordan Owens cautioned not to read too much into the oversight and that Canada is still on the hook for the cash.
"We will honour our financial commitments," she said, responding for the minister who was in transit from a defence conference in Singapore.
It's unclear when the instalment will be made and whether there are any penalties associated with a late payment.
The policy issue is an uncomfortable conversation for the Liberals.
Earlier this year, the fact that Canada was still paying to be part of the F-35 buyers' club raised questions about their campaign pledge to purchase something else other than the stealth fighter. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it "no longer makes sense" to buy the Lockheed Martin fighter because Canada would not participate in any first strike missions.
The annual payment also gives the federal government the right to buy F-35s at a discount price and gives Canadian companies access to supply contracts for the construction and maintenance of the high-tech jet.
The missed payment does not signal Canada's withdrawal from the agreement, Owens said. (end of excerpt)
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