By Robert Matas, Globe and Mail, July 25, 2011
The federal government has requested proposals for a $35-billion procurement program that includes combat ships – new armed Arctic patrol ships and replacements for the navy’s destroyers and frigates. It also involves non-combat vessels – a polar icebreaker, support ships for the warships, Coast Guard vessels and fisheries science ships. Federal officials have said contracts for the combat ships would be awarded to a different bidder than the contract for the non-combat vessels.
Armed Arctic patrol ships, destroyers and frigates...more war ships to go with the already contracted Fighter Jets...at a cost of another $35 billion. That's a total of nearly $70 billion in war preparations for Canada, a country known around the world for its peace-keeping history, tradition and character.
And at the same time, the Harper gang is touting an austerity program that lays off hundreds of people including some of the best brains in the art history world from the National Gallery.
What kind of mandate does Harper think, believe, make-up that he and his government were given on May 2?
There never was a single debate about war ships in the last campaign.
There was considerable talk of Fighter Jets (at an estimated cost of $30 billion) and several billion for new prisons, but not a word on war ships.
Why is Harper transforming this country into a war machine, without a mandate from the people of the country? Why, on the day when the Leader of the Opposition is diagnosed a second time with cancer, and has taken a leave of absence to deal with his own personal health battle, is Harper so arrogant and so single-minded, so out of touch with the Canadian people, ethos and character that he announces another significant expenditure on war.
Where is he planning to fight? Against what forces is he planning to engage in what battles? And for what purpose? Is this more chest-thumping faux nationalism?
Is the Baird diplomacy initiative a cover for the real "war" agenda of the government?
Oslo proves, London proves and many other sites demonstrate conclusively that the current world is facing serious terrorist threats, not the threat of military action by another foreign government of the kind that WWI, WWII, Korea and even VietNam were.
The nature of conflict today involves mad men with personal manifestoes for and against Islamic jihad.
Does Harper believe that spending $70 billion on war ships and planes will make Canada safer from such threats? If he does, then Canadians have to ask, "What is he smoking?"
If even half this money were to be directed toward new thinking and research into the causes, and the prevention of terrorism, especially in light of the recent events in and near Oslo, Norway, then the country could easily discern the appropriateness of such an expenditure. But war ships, armed Arctic Patrol ships....and those damn Fighter Jets....is the government gone mad?
Or am I the only one confused?
This is certainly not the Canada I grew up in and not the Canada I want to leave to my grand-daughters!