Thursday, May 15, 2008

Overspending and muzzling, all in the same story today

Now this doesn't sound like good financial planning, Harpie: "Defence plan to cost $20-billion more than announced." Although it does sound to be par for the course for Diamond Jim Flaherty, he of the $5 billion debt gift to the people of Ontario. Here are the details of the prudent budgeters at work:
Canada's new defence strategy will cost up to $50-billion over two decades – $20-billion more than the Harper government announced earlier this week – one of the country's top generals said Wednesday as the military scrambled to quell criticism that the plan lacks sufficient detail.

Lieutenant-General Walter Natynczyk, vice-chief of the Defence Staff, said the military would spend between $45-billion and $50-billion on planes, combat vehicles, ships and fighters under the Canada First Defence Strategy, the Conservative government's plan for the military that was originally released Monday without comprehensive details.
See, now is the time when that darned GST revenue might come in handy. Instead of giving us pennies off our Subway sandwiches and Timbits. An additional $20 billion is quite the oversight on Harper's part. Spectacularly funny thing, not telling us about that in his "announcement" on Monday.

Raising the issue, of course, as to whether this military prioritization is what Canadians are intent on financing. Apparently there's some super top-secret document in the Conservatives' possession that spells out the plan for the spending of this fortune on the military in "rich detail" but we, the unfortunate Canadian public, are not permitted to see it. And of course we aren't. That might lead to messy debate that might spark opposition. But we really should be having a debate as to how that money's going to be spent and indeed, whether it should be $50 billion at all.

What's also striking about this report is, of course, the muzzling of the military that's evidently going on. The PMO is doing their thing and putting a stranglehold on our respected military officers:
But senior military officers were constrained from talking openly as they tried to further flesh out the strategy Wednesday.

Aside from an opening statement by Gen. Natynczyk, senior military officials who hosted a hastily arranged briefing were under orders not to let themselves be identified by name when answering reporters' questions.

“What's really important is the government direction, in this regard, with regard to public affairs – so I have to live within that limitation,” Gen. Natynczyk said.


Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office has exerted stronger control over Department of Defence communications in recent months, particularly after the treatment of detainees captured by Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan fuelled controversy. (emphasis added)
This is just getting pathetic. We're all left shaking our heads, once again at this controlling, muzzling PMO. But thank you General Natynczyk, or whoever it was, for spilling the beans on this stifling "order." Why is the PMO issuing uncalled for"orders" like this anyway? What possible rationale is there for military, or anyone else, to be told not to use their own names? Is Harpie getting all controlling commander-in-chief on us or what?

Yep, keep up the brilliant media strategy, Conservative brain trust. It's working wonders...:)