Defence Minister Bill Blair said he could not commit to future spending for the Snowbirds when questioned by Saskatchewan Senator Denise Batters on Wednesday.
Batters asked if the minister would commit to ongoing funding of $10 million per year in annual funding to keep the Snowbirds in the air up to 2030 and beyond.
She also brought up the Snowbirds’ aging fleet of CT-114 Tutor jets. She asked the minister to commit to a procurement plan to eventually replace the jets.
Blair told the senate that funding discussions are ongoing and the funding for the Snowbirds and replace jets are being considered. However, he could not commit to future spending until those discussions are completed.
“Decisions are made with respect to defense expenditures and we’re looking at those expenditures which are necessary in order to maintain the military capability to fulfill the missions to which we have been made obligations and to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces can continue to support Canadians here at home and aboard,” Blair told the senate.
Batters told the minister that cutting funding for the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron would be a big mistake.
“The commitment by the Government of Canada to the Snowbirds is imperative. The Snowbirds are an excellent public face of the Canadian military and serve as a major recruitment tool at this time of declining membership in the Canadian Forces,” Batters said.
She used the example of Snowbird 2 pilot Capt. Caitlyn Clapp, saying she had dreamed of being a Snowbirds pilot since the age of 12 when she watched the team perform under the Snowbirds’ first female pilot Maryse Carmichael.
Batters also brought up reports that the Ministry of Defense was looking to cut $1 billion from its budget.
Blair again said that he was not prepared to make any future commitments and funding discussions are still ongoing.
The @CFSnowbirds are potent Canadian symbol of military excellence + national unity.— Sen. Denise Batters (@denisebatters) November 1, 2023
The jets soon need replacement. Govt needs a procurement plan NOW.
PMJT’s Defence Minister refuses to commit to ongoing funding ($10M/yr).
Will Trudeau put the Snowbirds on the chopping block? pic.twitter.com/KvzAauXKnQ
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