Thursday, July 15, 2010

Conservatives to Cut Funding to Veterans Affairs to Pay for American Weapons Contract

I posted the other day about the untendered contract worth 16 billion dollars that was going to American weapons manufacturer, and wondered how we could afford it given our massive deficit and debt.

I just learned how.

The Conservatives plan to cut funding to Veterans Affairs.
The Harper government’s short-sighted, skewed priorities could leave Canada’s war veterans and their families without support while billions are wasted on the G20 and sole-sourcing military airplanes, Liberal Veterans Affairs Critic Rob Oliphant said today. “Stephen Harper must explain to our men and women in uniform – past, present and future – why he’s spending $16 billion on warplanes, but won’t address the physical, mental and emotional needs of our brave veterans,” said Mr. Oliphant. “For a government that paints itself as pro-military, cutting back support for our veterans calls into question their long-term commitment to our troops.” The Conservative government says they’re considering recommendations to cut spending at Veterans Affairs, even though a report says the number of new veterans is expected to grow ...
Yet this government claims to love the military.

Liberal industry critic Marc Garneau said his party can't support an untendered contract of this size.

The Tories are expected to spend $9-billion on the planes themselves but commit to as much as $16-billion when 20 years of maintenance and support are included. They're going to join the Americans in purchasing F-35 joint-strike fighters. Mr. Garneau said the best value-for-money should be determined through a competitive process. “If the Conservatives won’t put an end to this contract, a future Liberal government will,” the Liberal MP said at an Ottawa news conference.

At the very least they will put the contract on hold until determining whether needed, and ensuring that it will not hurt those who have served.
“At a time when the Conservatives are also signaling significant cuts to Veterans Affairs, a $16-billion sole-sourced contract, agreed to without transparency, can’t be allowed to proceed."

A step in the right direction. Or should I say left?

Update from the Globe.
“Two competing principles are at work here,” observes Brian Lee Crowley of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy, an Ottawa think tank. “On the one hand, we have great pressures on the government to reduce spending, and so abolishing the Department of Veterans Affairs might result in some administrative savings, say by rolling it into the Department of National Defence,” he said. “On the other hand, if there is one group to whom the country owes an undeniable debt of gratitude that should be manifested in solicitous attention to their needs, it would be those who risked their lives on behalf of the country. I tend to come down on this side of the conflict.”
My father was a veteran and that department was very important to him. And besides. What about the veterans of this war?

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