Peter MacKay spilled the beans on the spat with the United Arab Emirates yesterday and a reporter was present to hear (see also).The reporter was standing with a Conservative Senator and Jim Flaherty in the lobby of the Parliament buildings yesterday during a fateful fire alarm. MacKay came along, wearing his "Fly Emirates" cap as a joke to taunt John Baird, he said. This would seem to confirm what had been reported, that Baird won the argument in cabinet on the issue, with commercial flight arrangements trumping the need to retain the Camp Mirage base. At the very least, it seems to confirm that the two ministers are on opposite sides of this one.
You might also point out that a $300 million unnecessary tab for taxpayers is apparently something to be joked about around the Harper cabinet table, as MacKay intended to do with Baird.
Further, you might also point out that it's much more likely that MacKay was the source of the leaks to the papers on the cost of the closure of Camp Mirage given his chattiness and apparent frustration. Willing to spread the word freely it seems. You could speculate further about whether this kind of frustration might indeed confirm a one foot out the door kind of mentality. Then, whether he might be nudged along now.
MacKay went on during his candid moment to state that the dispute meant it would take 10 years to repair the relationship with the UAE. It's that bad, is it? Thought everything was normal, that brand spanking new UAE visa requirement for Canadians was just routine. Guess not!
Further, MacKay confirmed that yes, the whole thing could have been resolved, that the Canadian Forces could have continued to use the Camp Mirage base there for free if Canada had worked out a commercial flight arrangement with the country's airlines. Why wasn't it, then? Still not getting how this could not have been worked out if a cabinet minister is confirming that this was the case and is essentially still shaking his head about it in public like this. Given our continued involvement in Afghanistan, it will continue to bite us, as the Talk 1010 reporter suggests.
That's some leakage that is actually consequential to military matters, Foreign Affairs and taxpayer dollars. Maybe it might get some attention but who knows.