Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mr. Harper's $1.3 billion Leopard 2 tank boondoggle

This doesn't sound good, what with that 2011 Afghanistan end date looming:
Canada's army leader expressed his frustration yesterday that 80 Leopard 2 battle tanks are sitting in storage in Europe and Montreal nearly two years after the Canadian government announced their purchase.

Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, Chief of the Land Staff, said he can not explain why he is still waiting for the badly needed tanks. "Quite frankly, it's taking an awfully long time," Gen. Leslie told the Senate committee on national security and defence. "They bought 100 Leopard 2s. Forty are still in Europe and 40 are currently in Montreal and they've been in Montreal since I believe November of last year. And I do not yet have my hands on those Leopard 2s with which to train our soldiers."

Gen. Leslie told senators the government has yet to contract a private firm to do the upgrades required to get the vehicles into service. As a result, soldiers training in Canada must use nearly 40-year-old Leopard 1 tanks, which he said have a breakdown rate of 71 per cent.
The comedy of errors on this massive purchase would be funny if it weren't so consequential to the Afghan mission. Recall what then Public Works Minister Michel Fortier told us at the time of the purchase of these lemons in April 2007:
When the purchase was announced, Public Works Minister Michael Fortier said it showed the Harper government's ability to obtain equipment quickly while "getting the best value for Canadian taxpayers."
Still waiting...

The Wingnuterer's commemoration of the leopard tank fiasco deserves to be brought out of the warehouse to mark this occasion when we are reminded of such massive, wasteful Conservative decision making which has come home to roost. $1.3 billion on these babies: