Budget 2012 (1a) Question Period exchange: “Ms. Élaine Michaud (Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, NDP): Mr. Speaker, military bases are going to suffer the consequences of the Conservatives’ cuts. Troop support staff positions are going to be cut on bases across the country. In all, more than 1,000 jobs will be lost. In my riding, CFB Valcartier will lose 150 jobs. That is huge. A few months ago, I asked the minister whether he had any intention of making cuts at Valcartier. He accused me of not supporting the troops. Is cutting jobs his strategy for supporting the troops? Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, that is not true. It is false, as usual. With the return to a more normal operational tempo, and with the end of the Canadian Forces combat mission in Afghanistan, we are now focused on redirecting our staff and other resources toward long-term sustainability. It is true that the member and her party have opposed every investment we have made in equipment, in bases, in support for the men and women in uniform and their families.“
Budget 2012 (1b) “…. The Union of National Defence Employees said it had learned from government officials that more than 1,000 positions at DND will be affected. The cuts show 345 of the affected jobs are in Quebec, more than any other province. Union president John MacLennan said he sees politics at play behind the geographic breakdown of the defence cuts. “It’s a backlash from the federal election,” he said, in reference to the 2011 vote that saw the governing Tories reduced to just five seats in Quebec as part of the province’s surprise embrace of the NDP. The biggest cuts in the province are to CFB Val Cartier and CFB St. Jean. A spokesperson for National Defence would not confirm any details, but said staffing levels can be reduced now that Canada’s combat role in southern Afghanistan has come to an end ….”
Budget 2012 (4) “The Area Support Unit of London’s Wolseley Barracks is closing. While he couldn’t confirm the date, Union of National Defence Employees (UNDE) national president John MacLennan said more than 34 jobs will be lost with that closure. “You’re losing the military presence in London, which is the heart of southern Ontario,” MacLennan said. “It doesn’t make sense.” ….”
Budget 2012 (5) What labour is saying: “The Union of National Defence Employees (UNDE) will be making every effort to fight back against cuts to jobs and services announced in the recent federal budget. “These cuts affect workers across the board from electricians to vehicle technicians, and safety inspectors,” said UNDE National President John MacLennan. “Canadians have a right to know the whole story about these cuts and their impact on support to the Canadian Forces,” he added ….”
Budget 2012 (6) From the Veterans Ombudsman: “…. last Thursday, the Government released details of the federal budget. There had been much discussion and speculation about how the budget and the anticipated cuts would affect our Veterans. On Thursday, we learned that Veterans Affairs Canada would be subject to an overall budget reduction of 1.1%. Minister Blaney has issued several public reassurances that programs and services will not be affected, so the Office will be watching very closely over the coming weeks and months as senior managers of the Department determine where and how they will bring about these reductions. It is imperative not only that programs themselves not be affected, but that these reductions not negatively impact the delivery of these programs ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War (2b) “One day after the auditor general ‘s damning report into the F-35 procurement process — the second biggest purchase in Canadian military history – the question being asked on Parliament Hill was, “Who is responsible?” During question period Wednesday, the answer from the government to that question was a tight script that didn’t find anyone to blame. NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair called for the resignation of Defence Minister Peter MacKay, while interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae said the prime minister should step down ….” More on the Minister’s responses in the house here.
F-35 Tug o’ War (2c) “He should resign, or be told to, but it won’t happen. Defence Minister Peter MacKay should take the fall for the incompetent mismanagement of Canada’s F-35 Lightning fighter bomber purchase project ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War (3a) Questions, discussion in the House of Commons yesterday here and here.
F-35 Tug o’ War (4) “Canada’s Auditor General, Michael Ferguson, released a report Tuesday which found the Conservative government’s procurement process for 65 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter planes, one of the largest military contracts in Canadian history, to be deeply flawed. Will the Conservatives sail through this squall virtually unharmed, as they have done countless times before? Probably ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War (8) The Wacky Funster REALLY Alternative view: “…. Curtailing the F-35 stealth fighter program would immediately make more money available in support of Quebec’s university students. In fact the cost associated with one F-35 fighter plane (461 million dollars) would release more than enough resources to finance the hike in tuition fees for years to come. The protest movement against government austerity measures applied in the US, Canada and the European Union must address the issue of the US-NATO led war. The F-35 stealth aircraft are not weapons of peace. They are part of the killing machine. They are slated to be used against China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. They are “weapons of mass destruction” to be used in the Pentagon’s “long war” ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War (9) “…. Embarrassed by the auditor’s observations, the Conservatives have put a new layer of oversight in place, and capped the acquisition budget at $9 billion. But so far, they’re not wavering on their position that the F-35 is the weapon of choice. Meanwhile, the RCAF’s aging fleet of CF-18’s is nearing retirement, and will no longer be viable after 2020. The government needs to revisit whether the F-35 is the right choice to begin with ….”
“Veterans Affairs is changing the way it pays for certain services for former members of the Canadian Forces. Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney announced measures Tuesday that will provide veterans with upfront payments for grounds maintenance and housekeeping services. Speaking at a legion hall in Halifax, Blaney said veterans who qualify for the veterans independence program will no longer have to submit receipts for the two services, eliminating the need to wait weeks in some cases before being reimbursed. “Instead of having to submit every single receipt for his housekeeping and ground maintenance, he will get one or two cheques a year in advance so he will be able to pay in advance and get the services needed,” said Blaney ….”