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Former MP Laurie Hawn asked to resign as RCAF Hon. Col. due to ‘political advocating’

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WATCH ABOVE: Former fighter pilot and Conservative MP Laurie Hawn said he was asked to resign from his role as Honorary Colonel with the Royal Canadian Air Force after he criticized the federal government's decision to buy up to 18 Super Hornet fighter jets – Feb 15, 2017

Former Conservative MP for Edmonton Laurie Hawn said he was told “to fall on his pen knife” and resign as Hon. Col. with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

He said his “vocal opposition” to CF-18 replacement was “not well received.”

Hawn is also a former CF-18 fighter pilot.

READ MORE: ‘Plane Talk’ with Laurie Hawn: What happens when you give a former fighter pilot the controls 

He said he was asked to resign his position after he criticized the government’s decision to buy up to 18 Super Hornet fighter jets.

He explained that he spoke out “rather more forcefully than was appreciated to the Commander of the RCAF and the Chief of the Defence Staff, on the issue of the CF-18 replacement.

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“This is a condensation of some of my main points, and I know that senior military leaders have their hands tied. As followers will know, I have been very critical of the 100 per cent politically motivated plan to buy 18 ‘interim’ Super Hornets for some time.”

Hawn suggested Canada could “fill the fabricated ‘capability gap’ with 27 F-18C/D aircraft from Kuwait at the bargain basement price of $330 million” or “upgrade our 76 CF-18s to Super Hornet system status for about 20 per cent of what it will cost us to buy 18 Super Hornets.

“Rather than pursue either of those options, we’d rather waste about USD $5.4 billion on 18 aircraft with no real increase in capability.”

READ MORE: Edmonton MP Hawn calls it a career 

You can read Hawn’s full Facebook message below.

“An open and fair competition could be started tomorrow and take no more than a year; but the government wants to kick the can down the road until after the next election,” he wrote.

“If we carry on, I firmly believe and many others share my belief that we will kill the fighter force. I simply can’t support that and my conscience will not let me stay silent and be deemed complicit by that silence. I have been in and around the RCAF for 53 years and it is soul destroying to see what is happening in the name of politics.

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“As anticipated, my vocal opposition to the plan was not well received by the most senior leadership of the RCAF and Canadian Armed Forces. I was asked to resign my position of Hon.Col. of 401 Tactical Fighter Squadron (the oldest Squadron in the RCAF, 20 Nov. 1918). That, I dutifully did, but since I’m not important enough to have sword, I just fell on my pen-knife.

“I will continue to advocate for what I think is in the best interests of the RCAF, Canada, our aerospace industry and taxpayers. Most Canadians may not really care about Super Hornet versus F-35, but I think they do care about the waste of billions of dollars for very little return, especially if it’s purely in the name of politics.”

WATCH: Deadly CF-18 crash hits close to home for former Edmonton MP and fighter pilot 

Hawn will be speaking with Tom Vernon for an interview on Global News at 5 Edmonton on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Conservative Laurie Hawn wants veterans to access their own medical records 

In a statement, the Department of National Defence/Royal Canadian Air Force said:

“Lt.-Col. (Retired), the Honorable Laurie Hawn has admirably served the Royal Canadian Air Force since 1964, including his most recent service as the Hon. Col. for 401 Tactical Fighter Squadron. During his military career he flew over 7,000 jet hours, mostly in the CF-18, CF-104 and CT-133, served on four fighter squadrons, and commanded 416 Tactical Fighter Squadron. Noting the Honorable Laurie Hawn served as a Member of Parliament for many years, which included his appointment to the Queen’s Privy Council of Canada, his interest in government policy remains evident.

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“As political advocating is not compatible with continued service as an Hon. Col., the Honorable Laurie Hawn has resigned as Hon. Col. for 401 Tactical Fighter Squadron.

“His leadership and tireless commitment to the RCAF is deeply appreciated. The Commander of the RCAF asked him to resign over the past weekend (Feb. 11).”

READ MORE: Canada’s fleet of CF-18 fighter jets can fly beyond 2025, says air force commander 

The RCAF spokesperson said a new Hon. Col. for 401 Tactical Fighter Squadron has not yet been confirmed.

“The Royal Canadian Air Force Hon. Col. Handbook provides guidance on the associated roles and responsibilities,” the statement continued.

Section 3.33 is entitled Public Relations and reads:

“The general public and the news media consider Honorary appointees to be representatives of the De­partment of National Defence, the same as any other serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces. Public re­lations are a very important part of the activities of an Honorary appointee and due to their high visibility in the local community they are in demand by the news media. Honorary members are encouraged to accept invita­tions as guest speakers or as participants in public functions.

“It is very important, however, that Hon. Col. remain outside any public controversy concerning the Canadian Armed Forces, steer well clear of comments that could possibly threaten operational security and never use the appointment to promote political opinion or to seek political favour for the unit or any member thereof.”

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