In a significant policy shift, the Canadian government now believes that telling the country’s taxpayers the future cost of the war in Afghanistan would be a threat to national security, Canwest News Service has learned.Consider the absurdity of what's going on here. We're regularly bombarded with figures from the U.S. about the cost of the Iraq war, their war in Afghanistan, etc. It's a common measurement that's routine, expected and always public. Yet here in Canada, suddenly, similar basic information for the Canadian public that we have enjoyed, up until now, is now none of our business.
The Defence Department cited a national security exemption when it censored a request under Access to Information by the federal NDP for the military costs of Canada’s military participation in the NATO-led, United Nations-sanctioned military mission to Afghanistan.
When the NDP asked for the identical figures last year, the military made them public. Canwest News Service was able to disclose in April 2008 that the yearly incremental cost of the war would top $1 billion for the first time since Canada’s military became involved in Afghanistan in 2002.
But this year, military censors cited Section 15 of the act in blocking out the figure.
This is information that the public can weigh in order to assess the very merits of the conflict, so we can know, monetarily and in of course, in other important measures such as human treasure, just how much this war is costing us. So that the public can weigh its commitment to the war in comparison to other national priorities. So that the public can weigh its commitment to other things as well, such as political parties who happen to presently occupy the government and who are charged with spending those dollars on our behalf.
This is information that defines what it is to be a democratic nation. If the people aren't permitted to know what a war is costing them, then clearly, those making such decisions don't trust the people. We, in turn, should not be trusting them.
Paging the Parliamentary Budget Officer...I think you're on.
It may be summer break, but apparently, we're going to have to rack up our time scrutinizing these misguided Conservatives in action. This should go over quite well in a coming election, whenever that may be.