Tuesday, March 31, 2009

$1.3 billion tank boondoggle rolls on

There's movement on the tank front, that bit of excellent Conservative strategery that had them make this huge purchase only to see it blow up in their faces at every turn. Denis Coderre questioned Peter MacKay yesterday in the Commons on the plight of the tanks, prompted by the recent big news in the Ottawa Citizen courtesy of the intrepid Dave Pugliese. To the effect that 20 of the lemons that are sitting in Europe have suddenly been targeted for fitting in Germany with a view to getting them to Afghanistan, the mission for which they were purchased 2 YEARS AGO, before the mission ends. This was big news in that the tanks had become a forgotten issue, until Lt-General Leslie publicly embarrassed the Conservatives into acting a few weeks ago. A fire was apparently lit under Minister MacKay. To be fit in Germany, you say? Would it be too cynical to point out that MacKay is still apparently and incomprehensibly in the running at that outfit known as NATO? Probably.

The problem, pointed out by Coderre, is that there are 40 tanks sitting in a Montreal depot and there happens to be a Quebec firm that is capable of doing the work. But due to internal government screw ups as between DND and Public Works, the schedule's been botched and the Quebec firm is now out of luck. Well done to the Conservatives in putting Canadian jobs first given that they so publicly promised in 2007 at the time of purchase that the work would indeed be done in Canada. Former Defence Minister O'Connor stated then:
Bringing the tanks to Canada will mean several hundred million dollars in industrial regional benefits for Canada for the modification, upgrade and 30-year in-service support of the fleet.
Latest time frame for their arrival in Afghanistan? If all goes well, spring of 2010, one year prior to exit. And since everything has just gone so swimmingly on this file, we know we can be assured that deadline will absolutely be met.

Educational value today...those Conservatives sure know how to mess up a file at every turn. Over buying, over promising, incompetently managing and frantically scrambling. How do they do it so well.

It'd be hilarious if it weren't so consequential to our finances and human treasure...