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WS EXCLUSIVE: Defence bureaucrats are inflating the fighter replacement program requirements, and it could cost taxpayers billions.

Defence bureaucrats are defying their political orders by inflating the replacement program requirements in favour of the F-35, the most expensive option by far.

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This is Part II of an ongoing Western Standard feature examining leaked F-18 fighter replacement program documents.

The public line from the federal government is that the F-18 fighter replacement program is coming along just fine, and that defence bureaucrats are conducting an open and fair competition. 

This is questioned by 800 pages of leaked documents obtained by the Western Standard showing that defence bureaucrats are defying their political orders by inflating the replacement program requirements in favour of the F-35, the most expensive option by far. At stake are Canada’s air defence capabilities, and billions of dollars in federal taxpayer funds. 

The technical requirements in the request for proposal (RFP) are littered with odd requirements that raise serious questions of bias. For example, a small number of points are available in the technical criteria section for jets equipped “with an arrestor hook or drag chute or both.” The F-35 has – and desperately needs – both to operate safely at Canada’s 6000 ft. Arctic Forward Operating Location runways. The Saab Gripen, on the other hand, was designed for Swedish Arctic bases with 3000 ft. of runway and uses its canards as integrated air brakes. If the Gripen doesn’t get full points on this requirement, then that should be a red flag of pro F-35 evaluator bias.

The Saab Gripen is a high-speed delta-wing fighter with canards – hence the “Euro-Canard” nickname – and in many ways resembles the high-flying, high-speed Avro Arrow interceptor. This design is optimized for speed and high altitude, both critical for winning in air-to-air combat and beneficial for minimizing drag on external stores during cruise. The Euro-Canards have service ceilings over 50,000 ft and are known to regularly fly over 40,000 ft., whereas Lockheed Martin recommends a cruise altitude of 30,000 ft for optimal F-35 performance. 

Saab Gripen-E fighter (source: Saab)

While ferry legs in the RFP are allowed at the bidder’s optimal altitude, multiple scenarios mandate flying at, or below, 30,000 ft. 

A CF-18 pilot I spoke with off-the-record estimates that the Gripen would earn more points if allowed to fly at over 40,000 ft. This is especially true of the NORAD Dash profile that mandates ten minutes at Mach 1.1 at 30,000 ft., with additional points for being able to sustain Mach 1.35 or greater. This requirement puts all three of the Euro-Canards at a disadvantage for no legitimate reason. I stress this point as the other two Euro-Canards – the Rafale and Eurofighter – have both pulled out of the contest citing pro American and pro F-35 bias.

Scenario Two in the RFP involves a World War III, Cold War style Russian attack with air-launched conventional or nuclear cruise missiles. Intercepting Russian cruise missiles during a World War III scenario is a legitimate mission for our next fighter and for Canada continuing to pull our weight in the NORAD partnership. That said, there are some eyebrow raising requirements to this mission. The fighters need to take-off from Inuvik in their NORAD Transit configuration. This is no issue for the tankless F-35 but places an odd penalty for the other jets. This is especially true for the Gripen, as it was designed so that Swedish ground crews could quickly swap armaments in Swedish arctic conditions exactly like those in the Canadian arctic, and against the same potential threats. 

In Scenario Three, two Royal Canadian Air force (RCAF) future fighters must engage sixteen cruise missiles with full points for destroying at least fifteen of them. American F-22s from Alaska are available to assist with the remaining missiles provided the future fighter relays targeting information to the F-22s. Two F-35s will eventually be able to fly with eight missiles each in a relatively clean configuration (two Sidewinders are carried on the wings, six internal AIM-120s are on the roadmap but only four are supported today). I wouldn’t be surprised if the F-35 earns full points on this scenario while the Gripen is forced to call in the F-22s after killing only eight of the sixteen cruise missiles.  

Dropping empty fuel tanks for more speed is prohibited, and thus an advantage for the F-35. Engaging the slow un-boosted turbofan-powered Russian cruise missiles with guns is also prohibited. This is a strange political trade-off: allowing Canadian cities and industry to be destroyed in exchange for protecting a hypothetical polar bear from being crushed by an empty drop tank. 

It’s worth noting that the Gripen’s operating cost advantage over the F-35 is so substantial that sending three Gripens on this mission would cost the Canadian taxpayer less than sending two F-35s. With the ability to swap the centre fuel tank for three additional missiles in Inuvik, three Gripen-Es could carry two external tanks, two sidewinders and five AIM-120s each; enough to take on up to twenty-one Russian cruise missiles. 

U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters from the 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin AFB, Fla. perform an aerial refueling mission with a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 336th Air Refueling Squadron from March ARB, Calif., May 14, 2013 off the coast of Northwest Florida. The 33rd Fighter Wing is a joint graduate flying and maintenance training wing that trains Air Force, Marine, Navy and international partner operators and maintainers of the F-35 Lightning II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen/Released)

The evaluation and weights summary document also raised more questions than it answered. Twenty per cent of the points are available for lifecycle costs but split evenly between “Acquisition” and “Sustainment” (the WS did not receive the appendices that contained more details). 

The Gripen should get the maximum score as it is by far the least expensive jet in the competition. The F-35’s relatively low future flyaway cost could be used to give it a higher score than its astronomical sustainment costs would allow if the 20 per cent was awarded exclusively based on total cost of ownership.

Twenty per cent is awarded for industrial offsets: 14 per cent for acquisition, and 6 per cent for sustainment. I reached out to an off-the-record source who said that the F-35 would receive only half the potential points for non-guaranteed offset work. My source argued that this was still unfair because Lockheed could claim 100 per cent offsets and earn half points while having no intention of ever delivering on those offsets. 

This is no baseless concern. In 2017, the head of Italy’s aerospace and defence industry association said that the Americans “had not honoured promises” and lamented that Italy had only received 44 per cent of the promised work on European F-35s.

The NORAD transit scenario also demonstrates some F-35 bias. As pointed out earlier this summer in a Macdonald Laurier Institute paper, the transit profile in the RFP is just outside the range of the block 2 Boeing Super Hornet. Only President Trump’s decision to fund the block 3 Super Hornet conformal fuel tank upgrade has saved the Super Hornet from being disqualified. 

The CF-18s can’t meet this transit requirement and need mid-air refueling to divert to Alaska, so this requirement is an upgraded capability being demanded. One can argue that being able to divert without tanker fuel is a reasonable enhanced requirement, but Boeing no doubt would have argued that the 170 kilometers closer, newly paved runway at Dawson City, Yukon would be the obvious choice for a diversion. Does a flight profile just within the range of the F-35, and just outside the range of the Super Hornet, sound like a fair requirement when there’s another Canadian runway within the range of the Super Hornet?

The long distances in the Arctic should highlight the need for Canada to pave more runways to cover our expanding Air Defence Identification Zone. There are numerous gravel runways that serve Inuit communities in the Arctic that, once paved, could become useful Forward Operating Locations. With gravel rated 737s being retired from service and there being no new affordable gravel rated cargo jets to replace them, paving those runways should be a priority for the Canadian Government as a form of reconciliation with Inuit communities regardless of the military benefits. It’s a shame that justifying the need for an expensive jet requires the military to downplay the benefits of paving more runways.

What fighter the RCAF ultimately ends up with isn’t altogether clear, but the bureaucrats clearly have their hearts set of the F-35, to the potential great cost of Canada’s air defence network, and taxpayers. 

This is Part II of an ongoing Western Standard feature examining leaked F-18 fighter replacement program documents.

Alex McColl is the National Defence Columnist for the Western Standard. He has a Masters 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.

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1 Comment

  1. RotorHead

    November 24, 2019 at 5:44 am

    Let’s break down this article.

    “This is questioned by 800 pages of leaked documents obtained by the Western Standard showing that defence bureaucrats are defying their political orders by inflating the replacement program requirements in favour of the F-35, the most expensive option by far.”

    According to the author, politicians are defying the will of the people by setting higher standards. I was under the presumption that the politicians were concerned about the welfare of the country and the military members serving it. By setting higher standards for the next fighter, that somehow is not looking towards the best interest of our military? Should we pick inferior aircraft and risk that our volunteer military not go to war in the best equipment available? The most bizarre part of this argument is that the Gripen E is proposed to be 85 million per aircraft, 5 million more than an F-35 and with significantly less capability.

    “The technical requirements in the request for proposal (RFP) are littered with odd requirements that raise serious questions of bias. For example, a small number of points are available in the technical criteria section for jets equipped “with an arrestor hook or drag chute or both.” The F-35 has – and desperately needs – both to operate safely at Canada’s 6000 ft. Arctic Forward Operating Location runways. The Saab Gripen, on the other hand, was designed for Swedish Arctic bases with 3000 ft. of runway and uses its canards as integrated air brakes.”

    While technically true, the Gripen’s minimum landing distance is 3000 ft only if it is unloaded. A Gripen at a comparable combat weight to an F-35 actually exceeds the F-35 in required landing distance. At increased combat weights compared to the F-35, the Gripen cannot even take off because it is too heavy, while the F-35 has a much more powerful engine designed to carry that weight.

    “While ferry legs in the RFP are allowed at the bidder’s optimal altitude, multiple scenarios mandate flying at, or below, 30,000 ft. ”

    The Gripen has the least powerful engine and the worst thrust to weight ratio when compared to every fighter in the competition. A basic understanding of physics shows that it will not be able to compete at 30,000 feet above ground level, much less beat the competitors. The author is is being fanciful in their assessment.

    “This is no issue for the tankless F-35 but places an odd penalty for the other jets. This is especially true for the Gripen, as it was designed so that Swedish ground crews could quickly swap armaments in Swedish arctic conditions exactly like those in the Canadian arctic, and against the same potential threats.”

    The author shows their bias in this statement. The F-35 would be able to intercept any known threat. The Gripen, by the author’s own admission, would need to land, refuel, and re-arm before engaging any known threat. This adds time and delays any intercept. The author pretends that this is not a factor.

    “This is no baseless concern. In 2017, the head of Italy’s aerospace and defence industry association said that the Americans “had not honoured promises” and lamented that Italy had only received 44 per cent of the promised work on European F-35s.”

    Canada currently receives 10 billion in industrial offsets in the F-35 program. It is unlikely to lose these contracts because certification to produce stealth parts for the F-35 take a lengthy amount of time to verify security clearances. What is already contracted for will likely remain that way, and there is a high likelihood for increased contracts as the F-35 program grows.

    The Gripen contract only promises for the allotted 66 aircraft to be built with no ongoing maintenance contracts. Any jobs will disappear after the proposed lot is built.

    “The long distances in the Arctic should highlight the need for Canada to pave more runways to cover our expanding Air Defence Identification Zone. There are numerous gravel runways that serve Inuit communities in the Arctic that, once paved, could become useful Forward Operating Locations. ”

    The author is proposing that we spend money on a cheaper fighter aircraft so we can spend more money on remote bases. How does this make sense? The RCAF isn’t even equipped to man or support these remote bases and the author hasn’t even considered the extra funding needed to do so.

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Features

Top Ten Good News Stories: 2019 Edition

Western Standard brings you the top 10 stories sure to make Westerns smile back on 2019.

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2019 was not a good year for Western Canada. With a few exceptions, most news concerning our half of the country was unrelentingly negative. But good things did happen (most of them elsewhere), and the beginning of a new decade seems a suitable time to reflect back on the stories that made Westerners smile.

10. Don Cherry’s private podcast received the highest listenership in Canada shortly after being dismissed by Sportsnet-CBC for his politically incorrect soliloquy on Coach’s Corner. Debate raged over if his comments were genuinely racist, or just the latest example of puritanical cancel culture censoring anything controversial. Lost in most of the debate was the hypocrisy of most left-leaning Canadians voting to keep a man who engaged in the unquestionably racist act of blackface, while demanding that Canada’s uncle be fired for speaking his mind. 


9. Western Canada is more united than it has been in years, with the notable exception of BC. The bloc of blue on election night spoke more loudly than all the rallies or convoys ever could. As it was in 1980 under Trudeau Sr., the Liberals do not hold a single seat between Winnipeg and Vancouver. It’s unlikely the voice of the West will be listened in substance, but if they don’t get the message now, they likely never will.  

8. Western Independence is back with a vengeance. While federalists might not view this as positive, it has got the attention of the Laurentians and as every negotiator knows, to be successful you need an ‘or else’. The question is, if the federalists don’t take the ‘or else’ seriously, can the sovereigntist movement move beyond shouting, to become a serious threat?

7. Teck Resources’ Frontier oil sands mine (sort of) approved. It took ten years and still requires approval from feds, but it’s good news and would create 7,000 jobs if Justin Trudeau allows it to go ahead. If he chooses to side with the climate extremists, it’s likely that the still rag-tag sovereigntist movement will see a flood of new recruits. 

6. Polar bears are back. Long the symbol of apocalyptic climate predictions, the polar bear has increased in numbers to the point where they are causing problems for northern communities. Good news for the bears, bad news for the climate extremists in search of a new icon.



5. The world is growing greener. According to NASA, leaf cover on Earth has increased by two million square miles since the early 2000s. That’s more than half the size of Canada and a five per cent increase from two decades ago. The two primary factors causing this are hyper-efficient agriculture and increased CO2, which depending on your worldview is either plant food, or earth-ending pollution.

4. ISIS was defeated and its leader Al-Baghdadi is dead. It’s difficult to tell exactly how much of this is responsible for a 52 per cent worldwide reduction in deaths from acts of terrorism, but it has surely played a significant part. After 20 years of chasing terrorists in never-ending foreign wars, its finally some good news. 



3. Boris Johnson destroyed Corbyn’s Labour Party in the UK election. Brexit will go ahead, the outcome of the referendum respected. Since Britons voted to leave the EU, globalists have lamented the push back against centralized political and economic control, while patriotic movements have looked to it for hope.

2. Hong Kong still stands strong against all odds, and has not (yet) been overrun by China’s nouveau-communist regime. The courage of freedom fighters in Hong Kong is inspiring, and the sight of its students standing up against tyranny contrasts with students in Western countries demanding free tuition and safe spaces. 

Credit: NDP website



1. The NDP lost their bid for re-election on April 16th, making them Alberta’s first one-term government in its history, and ending the province’s socialist experiment that arguably began with Alison Redford. As Rachel Notley failed to gain “social license” from her green allies, Albertans had little time for punishing economic policies with little gain in sight. It remains to be seen if Jason Kenney’s tough talk with Ottawa can produce anything but headlines, or if more drastic measures will be required. 

Bonus: An aspiring modern Michelangelo duct taped a banana to a wall and sold it for $120,000, presumably as art. In front of a crowd of stunned onlookers, another artist ate it claiming his snack was an ‘art performance’ titled ‘Hungry Artist’. The Western Standard does not endorse vandalism, but we struggle to place this in the same category. 

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MCCOLL: Rearming the Canadian Air Force

Canada’s Air Force is falling apart. Here are the top 10 items that can put it back in operation.

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Successive Conservative and Liberal Governments in Canada have come up short on our NATO spending commitments. The 2020s (or can we now just say twenties?) will be a critical decade for rebuilding the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as our entire fixed wing combat force needs to be replaced. Below are the top 10 most affordable purchases we could make to adequately rearm the RCAF. Please forgive me if it sounds like the 12 days of Christmas for defence procurement lobbyists.

120 Saab CF-39 Gripen-E/F Fighter Jets to replace the CF-18

Much has been made of the fighter “capability gap” over recent years, but few truly appreciate how large that gap has become. During the major CF-18 modernization upgrade of the early 2000s, the CF-18 force shrunk from 120 jets to only 80 as 40 aircraft were retired or torn apart for spares as a cost saving measure. The Harper government’s plan to purchase only 65 F-35As meant that Canada could only fly one of three major missions at a time: the NORAD mission, a NATO mission, or a major self defence mission (like defending Vancouver during the Olympics). The Trudeau government plan to purchase to 88 fighters should allow us to just barely fly two of the three major missions at a time. Returning to a fighter fleet of 120, like we had during the Kosovo conflict, would allow us to fully live up to our international commitments and be in three places at once.

Limited by reality (sorry CF-23 fans – that’s never going to happen), the Gripen is the obvious choice as it’s one of the most advanced fighters in the world, is the only one that would be made in Canada, and is the only aircraft that’s affordable enough that I can recommend buying 120 of them while leaving enough money for the rest of this list. Canadian CF-39 Gripen-E/F jets would be assembled at a new Saab/Bombardier factory in Mirabel, Quebec while creating the domestic jobs at the lowest cost to taxpayers. With such a large order, Canada could justify selecting the newer, and 18 per cent more powerful, General Electric F414 Enhanced jet engine. This engine would make our fighters truly worthy of the name: “CF-39 Arrow II.”

6 Saab/Bombardier GlobalEye Airborne Radar Jets

Canada lacks any Airborne Radar jets and instead benefits from those of our allies. If we want to pull our weight, then we should purchase our own airborne radar jets. Five Saab/Bombardier GlobalEye jets have been ordered by the UAE (the first 3 are already flying). Based on the Bombardier Global business jet, the “green aircraft” are made in Toronto before being flown to Sweden for militarization. Saab recently quoted a pair of GlobalEye jets to Finland and is working with Bombardier to compete for other European orders. A Canadian order would signal long term NATO support for the GlobalEye, help win more export orders, and create more manufacturing jobs in Toronto.

16 Saab/Bombardier Swordfish Jets to replace the CP-140

Canada’s 14 CP-140 Maritime Patrol Aircraft are even older than the CF-18s and need to be replaced before 2030. The only made-in-Canada frontrunner is the Saab/Bombardier Swordfish. The Swordfish is also based on the Bombardier Global business jet. Combining a GlobalEye and Swordfish order would be enough to shift all militarization work to the new Bombardier factory in Toronto.

4 Bombardier Global VIP Jets

Canada’s four aging Bombardier Challenger VIP jets are antiquated and desperately in need of replacement. One of the proven ways to save money on military aircraft is to reduce the variety of jets in service and consolidate the spare parts inventory. With a fleet of 22 Global based Swordfish and GlobalEye aircraft, adding four Global jets in the VIP configuration would simplify logistics while upgrading the small VIP jet capacity.

1 Airbus A330neo VIP and 2 A330neo Passenger Jets

Canada’s aging CC-150 Polaris fleet (Airbus A310-300) is made up of 1 VIP jet, 2 passenger jets, and 2 tankers. Earlier this year our only VIP version was badly damaged in a hanger accident and is still out-of-service. The spare passenger CC-150 that took Prime Minister Trudeau to London for the NATO summit broke down in London and another jet had to take him back to Canada. It’s becoming an embarrassment and, as is so often the case, taxpayers are spending a small fortune keeping obsolete aircraft flying beyond their best before date. We should emulate Australia and consolidate on the proven and cost-effective Airbus A330 platform.

6 Airbus A330neo Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT)

Australian A330 MRTT, Super Hornets, Growlers, and American B-1B Bomber

Australia, France, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the UAE, and UK all fly the successful A330 MRTT while Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway financially contribute to NATO shared A330 tankers. Canadian tankers should be built like Australia’s tankers and be equipped with a pair of wing-mounted refueling pods and a flying refueling boom. This would allow Canada to refuel any NATO aircraft.

22 Boeing T-7 Red Hawk Trainers for the Snowbirds Air Demonstration Team 

The 1960s Era CT-114 Tutors are falling apart and the RCAF plans on replacing them sometime in the early 2020s. The new T-7 won the US Air Force T-38 replacement competition in 2018. The T-7 was developed and built in extensive partnership with Saab to keep upfront and flying costs affordable. A Canadian order would keep President Trump happy because we’d be buying America. Additional T-7s could be purchased when our CT-155 Hawk jet trainers need to be replaced.

AIM-9X Sidewinder Missiles

During the last major CF-18 upgrade, the CF-18s gained the ability to carry advanced High Off-Boresight (HOBS) within visual range (WVR) missiles including the latest American AIM-9X Sidewinder missile. In typical Canadian fashion, we cheaped out at the last minute and never bought any new missiles. The Auditor General, in a scathing 2018 report, was critical of the lack of planned combat capability upgrades for the CF-18. Finally purchasing these modern missiles is the least expensive way to add combat capability to the CF-18 force. The Gripen can also carry the AIM-9X, so missiles purchased for the CF-18s could be reused on Canada’s future Gripens. 

Munitions, Munitions, Munitions!

The RCAF has often relied on begging and borrowing weapons form our allies when we exhaust our limited stores during a major coalition operation. This should be put to an end by purchasing an adequate inventory of weapons.

First, we need a good stockpile of NATO standard bombs (500, 1000, and 2000 pounds) and laser/GPS guidance kits. Second is new long-range radar guided missiles: the Gripen supports the new European Meteor missile, widely regarded as one of NATO’s most potent Air to Air weapons and reportedly less expensive than the latest American AIM-120D. Third is a new Anti-Ship missile: the Saab RBS-15 Odin’s Spear is certified for both the Gripen and the Swordfish and has a ground attack mode so it can double as an Air Launched Cruise Missile. Finally, we should invest in some low-collateral damage air-to-ground weapons including the latest Small Diameter Bombs and Brimstone missiles.

4 New Twin Otters to replace the 1970’s era Twin Otters

Just because the original design of the Twin Otter was a resounding success for remote operations in the Canadian wilderness doesn’t mean that it makes sense keeping 50-year-old versions flying. In March, one of the RCAF’s old Twin Otters was damaged during a landing near Inuvik. New Twin Otters are being made by Viking in Calgary and are being sold all over the World (even the US Military buys them). Let’s get some of that equalization money flowing back towards Calgary with a much needed RCAF purchase.

Alex McColl is the National Defence Columnist for the Western Standard.

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FORBES: Make buying Western your New Years resolution

Here are a few suggestions for how you can support Western Canada with your purchasing power in 2020.

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Vote with your dollars

In our electoral system we only get a chance once every few years to cast a ballot. But with every single purchase you are voting with your dollars for which businesses you want to support. So why not vote with your dollars to support our economy, our jobs, and our small businesses? For your New Year’s resolution, let’s make a conscious effort to support local Western Canadian businesses.

Of course, there are many excellent big businesses based elsewhere that employ Western Canadians by the hundreds and this is not intended as a knock against them. But there are many small, locally-based businesses that are struggling right now much more than the big companies. Small companies in Calgary, for example, are facing tax hikes from the municipal government. They need our patronage more than ever.

Supporting local businesses should be a voluntary, market-based decision, not imposed by government, but here are a few suggestions for how you can support Western Canada with your purchasing power in 2020.

Reduce your online shopping

Next time you click on Amazon or another major online retailer, ask yourself who ultimately benefits from your purchase. Sure, you may save a couple of dollars when you shop online. But every other step of the process is probably benefiting someone else who might be actively working against you. The product itself is probably made in China (often with questionable working conditions for their employees) and the distributor is probably based in the Greater Toronto Area or one of the major U.S. cities.

Instead, you could choose to support local jobs by shopping at a brick-and-mortar store in Western Canada. Of course, there are also plenty of businesses based here in the West that operate primarily online, and some may even use a big-name company like Amazon or eBay to get their product out to market. That’s fine too. Just do a bit of research first to make sure your dollars are going where you want them to go.

A classic brick-and-mortar bookstore (Source: Martin Cathrae, WikiCommons)

Make shopping a fun outing again

Take your spouse and kids out for a Saturday afternoon to an indoor farmers’ market. If you live in or near a major centre like Calgary or Edmonton, there are so many options for indoor farmers’ markets. Despite the name, farmers’ markets are not just about agriculture. In addition to high quality Western produce, each market has a wide variety of small independent businesses ranging from hand-made crafts to used books and movies to toys and treats.

Instead of just clicking a few buttons on your computer and having a parcel arrive at your door, why not go explore a new part of your town or city? Make it a family outing, let everyone pick a little treat to buy, and support a handful of small local businesses all in one convenient location.

Calgary Farmers’ Market (Source: Mack Male, WikiCommons)

Try some new locally-made food

McDonald’s drive-thru again? That mall food court has all the same options you’ve had so many times before. We’ve all been in that funk of choosing the familiar option just because it is easy. But it really gets to be monotonous after a while. Checking out a small local restaurant that you have never tried before is a great way to bring some exciting change to your routine.

One easy way to try new foods while supporting local small businesses is to go wherever food trucks gather in your city or town. For those living in larger centres, there are often apps or websites to help you find the right food truck for your tastes.

Next time that friend comes to visit from out of town, you can take them to this cool local place you discovered rather than the same old stuff they can get literally anywhere else.

A food truck in Alberta (Source: Kurt Bauschardt, WikiCommons)

Show some Western solidarity

Buying local is about more than dollars and cents. It is also about developing a community consciousness. Every time you open your wallet, I want you to think, “Is this good for Western Canada?” If it’s not – see if you can put your wallet away and save it for a better time. We in the West must develop that level of dedication to our own interests if we ever expect to stand up for ourselves in a world that seems to be actively working against our economic interests.

Anyone who has seen those “I Heart Alberta Beef” bumper stickers can appreciate that it is not just about goods and services. It’s an act of Western solidarity. It’s a meaningful statement that transcends political boundaries. Whatever our politics, we all share the West as our home and we all want our local economies to thrive. In a previous article, I wrote about how Western Canadians have a long history of helping each other out when times get tough. Making more conscientious decisions with our purchasing power is just another small step in that direction.

To support local Western Canadian businesses is a small decision that may not seem like much at first. But with time, every one of those small decisions will begin to add up and make a real difference for those small businesses that are struggling. This New Year, let’s resolve to support Western Canadian interests on a day-to-day basis in any way we can. Voting with your dollars is a great place to start.

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