Canada Matt Gurney: Just build the damn ships. And buy the damn planes. The huge cost overruns are the price to pay for our incompetence
Matt James Reveals Final Four On ‘The Bachelor’
Spoiler Alert: The following article reveals who went home on the Feb. 15 episode of “The Bachelor”. Matt James had some difficult decisions to make during Monday night’s episode of “The Bachelor”. The first challenge that the 29-year-old faced was saying goodbye to Heather. James decided he could not allow her to join his season due to the fact that he had already developed feelings for some of the other contestants. RELATED: Heather Martin Surprises Matt James As She Makes Her ‘Bachelor’ Debut James then sent home Chelsea and Serena C during the rose ceremony.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report on the navy’s next-generation warship program on Wednesday … and you’ve all stopped reading already, haven’t you? Hello?
No one would blame you if you had. Because you’ve read how many stories like this before? Under how many governments, going back how many years? Do you even need the details? You know how this goes. What are the ships going to cost? More. When are we going to get them? Later. Will the ships we currently have last that long? Maybe. Is the entire program now in doubt and possibly facing cancellation so we can reboot and try again? No one has said as much, but it’s a very real possibility.
Russia intercepts two French "Mirage 2000" and their supply vessel over the Black Sea
© Russian MoD A screenshot of the video taken by the Russians. We see the KC-135 and one of the two French Mirages. Two French Mirage 2000s and their tanker were escorted by the Russian fighter as they patrolled outside Russian airspace. Ah the Black Sea! What a nice playground for the Russian and Western armies… On January 31, it was a Sukhoi SU-24 which flew at low altitude over the USS Donald Cook, an guided-missile frigate of the US Navy on patrol in the black Sea.
At this point, does it even matter how much the 15 new warships are actually expected to cost? (It’s $77 billion.) Does it even matter how much more that figure is than the last update? (Not really, but it’s $17 billion, if you’re wondering.)
I’ve spent years writing about this stuff. I’ve written more about this stuff than anything else in my career. And I have to confess that I’m nearly out of fresh wisdom to offer.
Canada. Cannot. Procure. That’s it. That’s the column. It’s an inexplicable national failing that we seem unable or unwilling to in any way address.
And what more can be said? I could write about what this means politically, but it doesn’t mean anything politically, because the Liberal ineptitude on this file is matched only by the Conservative ineptitude on this file, and should Erin O’Toole win the next election, we’ll still be terrible at this, and if Justin Trudeau is re-elected, we’ll still be terrible at this. The failure is bigger, broader and deeper than anything that can be addressed by shuffling guys with red ties out of the nice room and replacing them with guys in blue ties. (Or gender-appropriate equivalents, of course — because it’s 2021.)
First Nations workers in Saskatchewan sacrifice wages, vacation to run underfunded water systems
First Nations water operators in Saskatchewan often find themselves on-call 24/7, while some make close to minimum wage to provide safe drinking water for their communities.Whether it’s a power outage in the middle of the night or a broken part on a weekend, Martell or one of his two co-workers, who are often on call, will troubleshoot from home or the plant to make sure the 238 homes in their community have access to safe drinking water.
The PBO laid out some proposals in the report for how Canada can maybe save some money on the program — options include purchasing less-capable vessels, purchasing a mix of less-capable and high-end ships, or swapping out the currently selected ships for another comparable but apparently somewhat cheaper option. That’s all fine as far as it goes, but who are we kidding? The moment that whatever new plan we adopt leaps off the PBO’s page and into the real world of Canadian procurement, it’ll derail, too. And then we’ll need another PBO report 10 years from now, and I’ll find myself writing some even more exasperated version of this very same column all over again, just like I’ve done every year or so since the Bush (II) presidency.
So let’s boil this right down to first principles here. The challenge before us is this: our existing fleet of ships are very fine and capable vessels, but they’re getting old. They have a decade or two of useful life left in them, but it’ll take us a decade or two to replace them, because of all the dysfunction noted above. Time is not on our side. We need these ships, indeed, if recent history has taught us anything, it’s that a less stable world will require us to be better armed and prepared than we’ve had to be since the end of the Cold War. So in order to have the new ships by the time current ones rust out, we need to order them now. Like, right now. Today, if possible.
Auditor general faults Ottawa for lack of progress on lifting First Nations water advisories
The federal government has not done enough to ensure people in First Nations communities have ongoing access to safe drinking water, says the federal auditor general. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed during the 2015 election to eliminating all long-term drinking water advisories on public water systems on First Nations reserves by March 31, 2021. The auditor general found that since the prime minister made that commitment, 100 advisories have been lifted. But 60 remained in effect in 41 First Nations communities as of November 2020, and some communities won't see their boil-water advisories lifted for many years.
It’s that simple. The world is evolving in dangerous ways that our abysmal military procurement system simply can’t keep up with.
So what do we do? As tempting as it is to indulge in the fantasy that we can do better if we just follow the budget officer’s advice and go with one of the alternate plans, or just try harder or whatever, we don’t have the luxury of kidding ourselves into believing we’ll do better next time. We won’t. We need ships. The ships are going to cost us an arm and a leg because we are terrible at this and insist on treating the military as a jobs-creation program for regional industries, rather than an instrument of national security. But there’s no way to solve that problem before the current ships rust out, so, screw it. Build the ships. Whatever the cost. Gonna cost an extra $47 billion? Sure, sounds good. Build the ships.
This might sound like a flippant, even irresponsible, approach to valuable public dollars. But in a weird way, it isn’t. We are so chronically bad at this that we have to accept that we aren’t going to do better, and once you accept that, the best option is, by brutal attrition, rapidly winnowed down to “Just get the damn ships as fast as we can and avert your gaze when the bill comes due.” Yes, of course, it would be possible to do better in theory . But is there anyone left among our nearly 40 million souls who really thinks we ever will?
What the Puck: Aura of negative energy envelops fragile Canadiens
Is Carey Price trying to get Dominique Ducharme fired? That, by the way, is a joke. The US$10.5-million goalie certainly played a role in getting Claude Julien fired . As former Habs netminder J osé Théodore said in his Journal de Montréal column this week, when National Hockey League coaches get tossed overboard, it’s often because the starting goalie is playing like a minor-leaguer. After Thursday’s pathetic performance by Price in a 6-3 loss to the high-flying Winnipeg Jets, it’s clear Saint Carey is in one of his all-too-frequent funks, pretty well business as usual for the most overrated player in the NHL.
It’s going to take us 20 years to replace the fleet. We have, at best, roughly 20 years to work with. No one would be happier than me if we found a way to solve our procurement woes, but there is absolutely zero reason to hope that we can do that within that 20-year timeframe imposed on the pending rust-out of the current frigates. And, though I hate to bring it up, guess what? Our patrol ships and our submarines are also going to need replacing soon, not to mention our CF-18s. These are all going to be multi-decade procurements, but that’s still faster than we’d need to fix whatever horrible rot has afflicted our ability, as a nation, to build and buy things.
So just build the damn ships. Buy the damn planes. Steal the submarines, if we need to — the Germans build good boats, perhaps we can “visit” one of their shipyards and abscond with a half-dozen while they aren’t looking. The military’s needs are real and pressing, and our men and women in uniform just don’t have the time to wait for the rest of us to solve this national embarrassment. So build and buy. The enormous cost overruns are the price we’ll pay for having let ourselves become so incompetent and feeble.
Matt Gurney: COVID shows why Canada can't depend on its friends when the chips are down .
Write anything about Canadian military policy and you’ll inevitably get a reply from someone — polite and sincere, or very much neither — who wants to know why on earth Canada would spend a nickel on its Armed Forces. Don’t you know the Americans will protect us? That’s one soothing thought that has gone unchallenged for far too long, and one that COVID-19, hopefully, will take some of the shine off of. Here’s the thing: the Americans would defend Canadian territory from a foreign attack, or push hostile ships, subs or aircraft away from our coasts (maybe not all of the coasts, but the parts that are populated, and close to the United States border).