Thursday, May 04, 2006

Did Harper Stiff the Military?

While the deficits of the early 1990s provide a partial excuse, I think you would find bi-partisan support for the contention that the last several Liberal governments short-changed our military in the way of equipment and training. As a result, I think you could find bi-partisan support for the increased funding that the new Harper government has promised. Certainly, Harper has talked alot about showing respect to our fighting men and women, and certainly he seems to want to use them more frequently in a combat role. However, a couple of stories out today suggest that there is far less to the Tory budget in regards to military spending than has been advertised. From the Calgary Sun:

The Conservative defense budget looks a lot like the Liberal defense budget, analysts say - long on promises and short on delivery.

"I was quite disappointed with the budget," said Elinor Sloan, a Carleton University political science professor who follows defense issues.

"I thought that there would be more specifics. I also thought that there would be more money made available."

"The budget they announced sounds not unlike the budget the Liberals announced a year ago.

"If you take the five-year forecast, it's a big amount of money, but if you break it down to what the forces will see in the next couple of years, it's not very much."

Indeed, the budget contains only one-fifth of the spending promised, with the rest being contained in an "internal plan" that defense Minister Gordon O'Connor hasn't bothered to show the public yet. There are even rumors floating around that General Rick Hillier is deeply unhappy with the new Conservative proposals, and that he may resign in the near future.

Look, in this one area at least, many of the Conservative proposals made sense. For example, the arctic ice-caps are melting, will probably be gone in 50 years, and other circumpolar nations are already planning to exploit an ice-free polar passage. An arctic port and new ships will be (if they are not already) an absolute necessity if Canada wants to maintain and exert its sovereignty in Northern waters.

And, on the other hand, it wouldn't surprise me if end up fighting water wars with our Southern neighbors in a couple of decades.

Therefore the promises with regards to our military would be the worst ones that the new government could break. They would also turn Harper's much touted trip to Afghanistan into a sick joke. He should be given shit over this issue until he coughs up the appropriate sums.


Anonymous said...

Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh (Vancouver South, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government was sadly silent in the budget in getting our military the equipment it needs. Out of the National Defence Headquarters, we now learn that conflicting lists of priorities were being passed around between the offices of the chief of defence, the minister and the PMO. The conflicts remained unresolved, with the result being no new announcements to support our troops in theatre.

Who is really in charge of defining what the military needs to perform their mission: the Chief of Defence Staff, the minister or the Prime Minister?

Hon. Gordon O'Connor (Minister of National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I find it incredible that the member would even ask such a question. That party, when in government, hollowed out the army, rusted out the navy and grounded the air force. The member should put a bag on his head. For shame.

bigcitylib said...

That seems to be the Tory response to everything right now. I wonder how long it is supposed to work?

Anonymous said...

wait till after the Auditor General reports week after next . . . they will be able to finger point all the way till the next election, wih ease

the new Liberal leader will have to turn on the old leader & eat some Liberal young 'uns to try a deflection move.

Like this one . . . Paul Martin's "Fix Healthcare for a generation"

except . . . from teh socialist nirvana of Manitoba . . . . .

"After his "occasional upper abdominal discomfort" evolved into continuous pain, Rev. Lehotsky went to an Urgent Care facility on Easter Sunday. After six hours, the doctor reported that he "wasn't sure what was causing the pain" and Rev. Lehotsky would have to be referred for further tests, a barium X-ray and an appointment with a gastroenterologist. Shortly afterward, Rev. Lehotsky was shocked to learn that the wait for the x-ray would be five months and the first appointment with a gastroenterologist would be in seven months "

In Saskatchewan, there are health care professionals who are openly advising patients to contact a SaskParty opposition MLA in the hope that public attention will speed their progress through the system - so much so, it has been reported that there is now a waiting list for families trying to have their cases heard in the legislature.

bigcitylib said...

So, using the same logic, this will be the same line the Tories take when their Health System reforms stiff the Health Care system. Look how terrible the Liberals were!

I wonder how they will answer non-Liberals when *they* ask why the army is still getting short-changed.