Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Getting the job done"

In the wake of the Forces' Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie's dressing down of the government over its mishandled $1.3 billion Leopard tanks acquisition on Monday, a little bit of damage control theatre was put on in the House of Commons by the Conservatives Tuesday. Trying to make up for the public thrashing they'd just been handed about that major failed military acquisition. So we saw a bit of orchestrated political drama.

Conservative MP Devinder Shory (who?) pitched a softball to Minister Christian Paradis on a military programme that was announced in Ottawa Monday. Paradis courageously used the opportunity to characterize previous Liberal governments as delinquent in their support of the Canadian military. Military beat reporter David Pugliese saw the Commons proceedings, however, and called it out. Here's the question and Paradis' "response":
“For years under Liberal governments the Canadian Forces suffered from a lack of financial support for essential equipment and support systems that our men and women in uniform require,” Mr. Shory started off.

“Our government continued with our agenda to strengthen the Canadian Forces with measures that will also help 250 highly skilled General Dynamics workers in Calgary,” he continued, referring to the Land Command System (LCSS) contract.

He then asked the Minister of Public Works to give details about the contract announced yesterday.

Christian Paradis, the Public Works minister, then went into his pitch about LCSS and how it was needed by the Army. “Once again, where the Liberals failed, we are getting the job done,” he said.
Getting the job I guess he didn't catch any of L-G Leslie's testimony then. And consider the point raised in this little reality check:
...what no one bothered to say in this Commons political play was that the original LCSS contract was first awarded in the 2002/2003 timeframe……by a Liberal government.

Yesterday’s LCSS announcement was the continuation of that program.
The little Commons exchange makes for momentary political hay, but it's deceptive and, when you have skilled reporters around, easily exposed. Yet the Hansard record will still contain the misrepresentation of the circumstances. Are these Conservatives willing to just read anything they're handed? Is that really how it works for them? Silly questions to ask, I know. But still, it's always amazing to watch them actually do it.

It's also worth pointing out once again the tiresome and disturbing trend on the part of the Conservatives in trying to brand themselves, hypocritically so, as the "pro-military" party. Much in the same way that the Republicans do in the U.S. The claim is inappropriate in a democracy and in any event, their follow-through on their rhetoric is just not there:
The list of Canadian Forces procurement problems is long and particularly unsettling for a Conservative government that was hailed as the end to a “decade of darkness” in the military, promising to fund an all-star mission of well-trained soldiers armed with world-class equipment.
Kudos to the vigilant Pugliese for the great work.