Thursday, February 23, 2006

Defence Minister Favors Deficits

How else can you interpret Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor's statements on forging ahead with the Conservative promises, despite clear warnings that the costs are well above the rosy Tory estimates:
But analysts say the promises already look far more costly than the Tories have suggested.

"I think the Conservatives did low-ball their spending estimates," says Steve Staples of the Polaris Institute...

The Canadian American Security Review, published at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, is also doubtful about the Conservative accounting.

"A cost of $2 billion for both ships and deepwater port seems ... doubtful," the publication said. "Election promises are more convincing when better fleshed-out."...

Staples said the surveillance system which would spread sensors across the Arctic to listen for submarines or other foreign vessels is a pricey option by itself.

"My understanding is that this proposal has been around for a while and it was shelved because it was too expensive."

He says a modern weapons system for the icebreakers "would cost a fortune."

Ethics aside, it is common practice to promise the moon during an election. However, once in power the fiscal realities often force "broken promises". Not so for the new government, who are determined to press forward with their misguided adventure that will threaten Canada's financial bottomline:
Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor He told a conference of defence groups that the Tories plan to carry through with their ambitious election promises, including 13,000 new regular soldiers, new icebreakers and a northern port, new transport planes and infrastructure.

''We made a number of commitments in that platform and we intend to implement every one of them,'' he said.

He said the policy is simple: ''It's about having a three-ocean navy, a robust army and a revitalized air force.''

The Tories promised more money for defence and O'Connor said that will start soon.

''The Conservative government will provide new funding for National Defence in the upcoming federal budget.''

He wouldn't say how much will be in the first budget, but added he's sure the cash will be there.

''The prime minister has assured me that over the next few years we will get the money necessary build the armed forces the way we planned.''

Despite the warnings of massive cost overruns, the Conservatives will implement their plan. O'Connor had one other minor tidbit, Canada is willing to re-open the missile defence debate. Philosophical issues aside, how would O'Connor fund another massive expenditure? We have heard estimates of 500 million just for Canada to enter the game. The entire project could top the trillion dollar mark, which means that even a relatively meager contribution would be enormous for Canada. None of these fiscal concerns address the fact that practically missile defence looks more dud than deterrent.

Conservatives lauded Harper's economic credentials during the election. However, right out the gate, Harper is showing a dangerouresemblancece to the fiscal disaster that is the Bush administration. Cutting taxes and recklessly raising expenditures defies common sense. The fact thaknowledgeablele people are openingly questioning the Conservatives numbers should serve as red flag on the defence commitments. The litany of promises, coupled with stubbornnessss to ignore the warnings, will bring Canadians back to reality- fiscal health is not an infinite given.

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