Friday, November 05, 2010

"Big challenge and big bucks" to replace Camp Mirage

The question of the cost of the unexpected move out of the UAE and the Canadian Camp Mirage base was put to the government on Thursday in the House of Commons but went unanswered. Instead, an unnamed Conservative source is unburdening him or herself of the information:
It is costing the Harper government an estimated $300-million to close Camp Mirage, the secret airbase in the United Arab Emirates that Canada used as a logistics hub for its troops in Afghanistan, a senior Conservative official confirmed Thursday.
The Canadian government had been using the base for free for nine years. But leaving is complicated – there are huge logistical issues, according to the source, including moving equipment and now having to factor in fuel costs for the longer routes between Afghanistan and the alternative bases in Germany and Cyprus.

“The UAE were not charging us to use the port and airfield,” the government source said. “So now we pay plus setup costs in new area. Big challenge and big bucks.”

Officials peg the total bill at $300-million, the source said. “For six more flights, we could have solved this,” the source added, referring to the Canadian landing rights sought by the UAE.
Careful! Your disgruntlement is showing! The schism among Harper Conservatives on display, someone is exercising little restraint in sticking it to Harper here for the failure to resolve the UAE base problem. It is well deserved. Not a stretch to think that it's MacKay's office leaking given that he's one of the ministers who has been reported to be against the handling of the situation from the beginning. What department would properly be in the know about the cost of the closure after all? Who could blame them as well, this is insanity. Maybe they are figuring it out.

It has been amazing, since the story first broke, nothing really came forth in terms of any kind of resolution being sought. As if stubbornness was the only option, forget diplomatic tries. Now the base has been emptied. The moving costs will indeed be incurred.

It is also one more example of that incredible premise that the Harper government operates under in terms of the information that it thinks it is entitled to keep to itself and the public has no right to know (there's a second example in the news today worth noting as well). Fortunately, some unknown official disagreed, in this case. They deserve to take a real hit on this epic waste of money.