This week's series of defense spending announcements by the Harper government has elicited the first of undoubtedly many more brilliant responses from the left. On point is Jim Travers of the Toronto Star.
One of life's vexing dilemmas is deciding the right price for something that's wanted more than it's needed. For Stephen Harper the answer is, give or take a few millions, $3 billion.
That's about what Ottawa will spend on giant strategic lift aircraft that Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor is buying and both Boeing and the Bush administration worked so hard to sell. Once the C-17 Globemasters arrive, Canada will be delivering troops, equipment and relief supplies to domestic and international emergencies in planes that, truth be told, can be rented as effectively — and more cheaply.
Is that so Jim? Please elucidate.
Is $3 billion too much to pay for waving the Maple Leaf flag? Are cargo planes a pressing priority for a country with so many other costly problems on its plate?
Those are self-evidently dumb questions with deceptively difficult answers. What makes them so difficult is that the federal government has reasons to want heavy-lift capacity even if it's relying on myth and misunderstanding to convince taxpayers the military is desperate for the Boeings.
Hmmmm......self evidently dumb questions........should I expect self evidently dumb answers? Let's see.
The myth is that the planes are essential to airlift the military where it's needed, when it's needed. Former defence minister John McCallum challenged that notion three years ago and now says the high command couldn't site a single example where the forces were immobilized because they couldn't arrange timely rentals.
Jim, I must respectfully call Bullshit! It seems to me we had a little problem inserting the DART team in response to the boxing day tsunami. What was the problem there?? This from CTV.
Who decides when DART will be deployed?
The United Nations or an individual country may request the services of DART but the final decision is in the hands of the Canadian government, which confers with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Department of National Defence, and the
Canadian International Development Agency.
The final decision is based on funding, higher priority commitments, airlift availability, weather, geography and accessibility.
Before the Canadian government can deploy the team, the host country must agree to or request its assistance.
So when did we get the DART team on the ground?
The first of five planes carrying DART cargo and personnel left Canada for Sri Lanka on Jan. 6. The fifth and final flight is scheduled to arrive in Colombo on Jan. 16 and will also carry humanitarian aid arranged by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).The personnel will also help build sanitation facilities and toilets.
So the first of our rapid response disaster team arrived on the 7th of January and the entire unit on the 16th. Hmmmm..... 21 days to get the whole crew in country. Well, maybe it took them some time to spool up their gear. I wonder when they were ready to go?
The deployment of what is supposed to be a rapid-response unit to the tsunami disaster was held up by political haggling even though the team was on high alert within 24 hours of the disaster.
Reports alleged that the debate centred on the high cost of the $20-million mission.
Naysayers have also criticized the logistical problems. DART has dispatched five planeloads of cargo and personnel just to set up camp in Sri Lanka. After a long plane ride, the team faces another 12-hour road trip.
So how did we get the DART team to Sri Lanka? Oh yea, the same way we moved DART into Pakistan in response to the earthquake disaster. Once again I cite CTV.A giant transport plane loaded with equipment and supplies for Canada's disaster relief team is winging its way to Islamabad.
The six-engine, Ukrainian Antonov AN-225 lifted off from CFB Trenton in eastern Ontario at 10 a.m. EDT, loaded with about 75 tonnes of supplies.
The Antonov, considered the world's largest aircraft, must make about three or four more trips to move all of the Disaster Assistance Response Team's gear.
BTW the AN-225 is only slightly larger than a C-17 Globemaster.
So I'm thinking that's enough facts. Back to Jim.
Among those Harper is pleasing are O'Connor, the arms industry that until recently paid his lobbying fees, Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier, George W. Bush and, of course, Boeing. In buying everything from the Globemasters to helicopters, ships and trucks, Harper ends a nasty dispute between O'Connor and Hillier and sends another strong signal south that, more than a friend, Canada is an ally.
That's important to an increasingly isolated Bush administration. And it's a help to both the Pentagon and Boeing as they try to extend the slowing Globemaster production run as far as possible.
Lump those considerations together and suddenly adding heavy strategic lift to this country's military capabilities isn't quite so puzzling. A defence minister and his top general must make peace to wage war and perhaps $3 billion isn't excessive if it helps Canada continue reaping the much larger benefits of living under the U.S. security umbrella.
Well Jim, I have to agree with you on one point. There is in fact a price to be paid for national security and I might point out for timely humanitarian aid. Unfortunately you lost me with this specious statement.
It's easy to argue that those billions could be better spent on, say, health, education, the environment or finally doing something about squalid aboriginal life.
Mr. Travers you are a shameless hack.But I will leave you with the last word.
Compromise is part of politics and in bridging the difference between wants and needs the Prime Minister is putting wide smiles on many faces. And that's worth every cent of every billion, isn't it?