Watch out, lost and injured hikers!

I apologize lately if this blog has taken on a certain military feel, though I do think that it is worth trumpeting some of what is not happening as we pursue the mission in Afghanistan. I still am not totally sure what I think of the commitment, but I do think that the government needs to be willing to explain some of the operational sacrifices that suffer from an ongoing overseas focus.

One of these, apparently, is replacing our Search and Rescue planes. Here is the key parts, for those that don’t want to read it all:

The $1.3-billion program to purchase a fleet of new fixed-wing search-and-rescue aircraft was named as the No. 1 equipment priority in 2003 for the Canadian Forces.

But the project has since been derailed by the urgent purchases of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gear for Afghanistan, the $650-million order for Leopard tanks and the multibillion-dollar purchases of C-17 and C-130J transport aircraft and Chinook helicopters.

(…)

The purchase of the 15 search-and-rescue planes was supposed to replace the 40-year-old Buffalo aircraft on the west coast as well as the aging Hercules transport planes also being used for such missions.

Mr. Price said it is becoming increasingly difficult to find parts for the aging Buffalo since suppliers have gone out of business over the decades. In some cases, military personnel have had to build new parts for the planes. When he was wing commander at CFB Comox in 2004 his staff had to rush out to purchase brake pads for the aircraft since the original supplier was shutting down.

(…)

Mr. Price said he believes it will take several incidents in which the military can’t respond to a major search-and-rescue call before the government is forced to proceed with the program. 

Bolding is, as always, mine. In fairness, I haven’t included the parts of the article where the military maintains that no project has been hurt by the war in Afghanistan.

But, here’s the rub: Search and Rescue is one of those essential services that the Canadian Military provides, and cutting back on it necessarily hurts the safety of those in trouble in Canada. It is an abrogation of the government’s duty to let these sorts of things suffer, and I have a hard time believing that this government is unable to find a billion dollars to protect Canadians, especially as they are buying tanks which will not be delivered until after we may be out of Afghanistan.

But here’s the bigger rub: What do you think a Conservative opposition would say if Canadian service people, and those that they are supposed to be helping, were restricted with equipment older than most of the operators? Here’s a hint: Lexis-Nexis “Sea King” and “Labrador“. I suspect that the Government’s response will be to blame the Liberals for not buying new ones in 13 years of government, which will ring a little hollow when a tender was on the books, and now seems to be stalling 16 months into the tenure of Steve.

Ahead by a Quarter Century, Part 2

On Tuesday, Padraic, Adam, and I had a discussion about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 25 years later. This is the second part.

Note, if the audio sounds funny with google reader, just listen to it on the site. I’m still trying to sort out which bitrates are cool and which are not.

Ahead by a Quarter Century, Part 1

On Tuesday, Padraic, Adam, and I had a discussion about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 25 years later. This is the first part.

Note, if the audio sounds funny with google reader, just listen to it on the site. I’m still trying to sort out which bitrates are cool and which are not.

Feeling Like Home

As I was biking to the Archives today, I managed to see a Sea King flying over Wellington street. There’s something strangely familiar about seeing one buzzing about, but at the same time terribly disconcerting when it flies over you.

 Edited to add: At least I think it was a Sea King. It could have been one of the new ones- it had the same grey colour, but in retrospect the wheel-pontoons (or whatever they are called) looked different.  

Charity for the families of troops

For all that we talk about the need for people to support the troops, we forget that a lot of that support involves helping out the families of those that are deployed. Two stories from the last week bring to mind how government is abrogating its duty in this regard. The first involves a mental-health crisis amongst children at CFB Petawawa, where 20 of the solidiers killed in Afghanistan were based. While issues such as this are the responsibility of the provincial government, it is pretty clear that the Federal government has more than a little to do with any emotional issues that may be going on at the base. Second, Rick Hiller announced a charitable program to raise money to assist the families of deployed members of the military for things not usually covered under existing programs. I think that in this case, the heart is in the right place, but if there are problems with existing programs not covering enough, said programs should probably be expanded before we start a charity.

We all talk a lot about making sure that the Canadian Forces has the equipment it needs to get the job done- we are buying new(ish) Tanks, new tactical and strategic lift air planes and helicopters, and I am pretty certain that if Rick Hillier told the Prime Minister that the troops really needed the Toronto Maple Leafs to be allowed to compete in the playoffs, there would be a move to make it happen. Yet, when it comes to this, a quick search of Hansard shows that on the Petawawa matter there was only one question and answer, each more about the extension of the mission rather than the need for the government to care for all aspects of the military community, not just those in uniform. So, while we are willing to make a fuss over the purchase of hardware that will barely be ours by the time the current mission is set to expire, we don’t see a similar push for the government to pony up the financial support for the families that stay at home and worry, or much, much worse.

MMP?

On air this morning, Padraic, Adam, and I talked about the electoral reform proposal that came out of the Ontario Citizen’s Assembly. More to come later- we also had a two-part discussion on the 25th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

 For those using Google Reader (as all should), please note that the internal player can be picky with bitrate, so if the sound file sounds like chipmunks are talking, just listen to it from the site itself.

Itunes!

What do Steven Harper, Dan Savage, and I have in common?

Well, apart from at least two of us thinking it would be awesome to be seen in public together, we all are have podcasts listed on iTunes. You can find me here. I’ll start regularly posting stuff that airs on my radio show (tuesday mornings in Ottawa!) here so that those that live away, or just don’t care to be up at 7 in the morning, can listen.

As an inaugral item to go out across iTunes, I have added a file of Padraic Ryan climbing the stairs of Dunton TOwer in thanks for people having donated to CKCU’s annual pledge drive.

Ottawa to get curbside composting

Finally!

 The Maritimes has had this for almost 10 years now, and the program works really, really well. Obviously, there will be problems with the Heat in the summer, but no more than would probably exist at present with garbage sitting in bags, in bins.

 But mostly, this should really help limit the ongoing, and controverisal, proposals to extend the life of the Carp road dump.

More Podcasting

Please note that the interview with Reed Scowen, on his new book, was a bit truncated at the beginning.