Thursday, 30 June 2016

BREAKING: in what seemed like a cheap Valedictory speech, Obama builds Canada’s ego…

The President also confirmed Canadian’s farts smell better than any other nation’s

This could have been the headline from after president Barack Obama addressed parliament yesterday. 

Like a single guy at last call, Obama was determined to make sure the person (or people) he was talking to, felt like the prettiest belle at the ball. He did this with the typical rhetoric about friendship and trade, following this up with Beavertail anecdotes, and plenty of jokes staggered carefully through the speech. 

Was Obama trying to pump Canadian MPs up before summer break by telling them what they want to hear? Yes. In my opinion because he's a lame duck, with limited desire to say anything more than generic positive pluralist values, this is what he's left with. That and inform Canadians we had the best smelling farts in the world. Thats the only explanation in my mind for how the PM was acting. With the amount of times during the stream of Mr. Obamas speech that Justin smiled and knowingly nodded while slightly lowering and tilting his head, and then putting on an expression most reserve for inhaling the odour of their own gaseous bowel releases. 

Obviously i’m being a bit stupid here, but the point i’m trying to make is, why the hype if this whole speech was going to be fluff? Presidents don’t address the house that often, it is a big deal. When they do, its usually to set up policy for future leaders, or for themselves if they are at the beginning of their terms. 

This was not the case, Obama is a lame duck, and his speech was more a stand up act that also happened to espouse liberal, pluralist values at the same time. 

In their last days in office, presidents have some power to make activist moves. They can pardon individuals, finalize executive orders, in Obamas case try and slip in one last liberal Supreme Court Justice. Obama has a plethora of issues he could dress in his remaining days. He could take a last stand for freedom and privacy issues for instance, and pardon Edward Snowden. He could have mentioned in his speech some regrets on his administrations toxic and contradictory stance on Marijuana, and compliment Canada’s clear move to bring some sense to international drug policy. 

Instead he made jokes about hockey, Beavertails, greying hair his brother in law, burning the White House in 1812, and basically anything else that would pander well. He also called PM Trudeau, "Justin Trudeau" once, and simply “Justin” four times. A move a former leader was criticized for during the last election cycle.

The core of Obama’s speech; some comments about  UN and NATO commitments, with the soon to be famous line “The world needs more Canada” was about as progressive as he was going to get. It was all obvious pandering though. For instance after compliments the Liberals for raising the pride flag, and Complimenting himself for making the White House a rainbow:
“The colours of the rainbow flag have flown on Parliament Hill. They have lit up the White House. That is a testament to our progress, but also the work that remains to ensure true equality for our fellow citizens who are Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered.” - Macleans speech transcript  
He  then went on to say: 

“I have a bias on these issues, but — but our work won’t be finished until all women in our country are truly equal, paid equally, treated equally, given the same opportunities as men; when our girls have the same opportunities as our boys. That’s who we need to be.” - Macleans speech transcript

So you’ve just said you want to make progress on LGBTQ issues, but you only want our “girls, and boys” to have the same opportunities?

What i’m digging at is the obvious pander. Whether or not Obama cares about these issues is irrelevant. As even the Liberal minded CBC put it “Obama tells us what we want to hear, and Canadians love him for it” . He knew he had to give a shout out to Gay Lesbian Bi and Trans people, but in the very language of the next sentence we see the gap in how far you can pander to a Liberal democratic audience. 

To mix up trans rights issues and equal pay for women, dilutes the power of both issues because in making a giant even diagram of issues, you lose people opposed to the new addition. Trans people have said there is a wage gap for them as well, why isn’t this issue brought up when discussing equal pay? 

Because it doesn’t sell. Because this whole display, from the Trudeau twins nodding along and smelling their own farts (why was the PM’s wife on the floor anyway, is she gunning for an office?), to Obama giving obvious support to Hilary, and making some carefully ambiguous Trump disses. Watching the speech was a waste of time, and I guess that makes writing about it worse. However, I had to sit through the nonsensical fart sniffing pander that occurred, and now, if you’ve reached this part of the article, and you’re a Liberal staffer who had to check this because of a google alert (likely how I achieve readership) then i’ve paid you back. 

If you’re not affected by my obviously specific burn, then I only hope you’re as annoyed as I am over the pander filled waste of a speech, by a lame duck president. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Saudi’s will get their arms, the Liberals will keep it quiet

the Germans will help? This writer also has questions about the security of the shipment

In a first for what is a very young blog, I have managed to get my hands on a piece of news to break. Quiet from any public release it would appear the Liberals have begun shipping the controversial Light Armoured Vehicle or LAV to Saudi Arabia.
(A diagram of the General Dynamics LAV - this diagram
gives little doubt as to the cargo of the trucks spotted)

Recently departed from Halifax is the Saudi flagged vessel “BAHRI TABUK” a Ro-Ro container ship (meaning roll on and roll off loading) that was loading yesterday on the Bedford Basin pier. This vessel is headed for the port of Bremerhaven Germany, a city that could be a port of call for the ship, or it could act as a transportation hub as the German city carries a great deal of heavy freight including cars, containers, and food. This also means that if the vessel does not continue on to Saudi Arabia, it is likely the German government is complicit in shipping Canadian arms to their Saudi buyers, a revelation that was previously unknown.

What makes this vessels stop in Halifax noteworthy is early this morning, just after 7am at least two transport trucks with Ontario plates, carrying what was clearly four of the new General Dynamics LAV were spotted traveling toward the Bedford basin shipping pier, where only one ship, the Bahri Tabuk was docked. 

(Shot of the first truck)

(Shot of the second truck)

With no announcement one can only assume the Liberals hoped this transport would go un-noticed, although with this being said, there is not much obscuring the highly controversial LAV from view. Secrecy aside, here’s where it gets even worse. These highly sophisticated pieces of military hardware, were barely covered and had no visible security as is obvious from the above pictures. Not only are we shipping LAVs to a country who may use them for questionable purposes, but we aren't even being that careful while doing it. 

These transport trucks have presumably traveled from the General Dynamics factory located in Ottawa with little more than the turret obscured by plastic wrap. These vehicles, could have easily been tampered traveled across some 1,400 km and this careless transport of controversial and dangerous military hardware should not be taken lightly. If you don't think damage is possible let me remind you that in 2011, US military hardware was damaged by an anti-war protestor while stoping over in Ireland. The protestor that attacked the aircraft at Shannon Airport and had to breech far more security than was afforded to these LAVs, so in my mind its very plausible that something could have happened to this shipment, or could happen to future deliveries. 

Though the photos are not clear, the person who sent them to this blog said there were “arabic looking letters” along the side of the vehicles, meaning presumably those operating them would be speaking this language. Further, these appear to be the exact design that General Dynamics would be producing , giving leave to any doubt that this is the controversial shipment covered endlessly in the Canadian press.

With the Liberals lack of coherent defence policy its not a surprise to me they continued with the move to sell LAVs to the Saudis. They had much to lose from canceling the deal, and other defence policy wedge issues like Single Surface Combatant vessels, and the F-35s that are that they can be public about. What is surprising to me, is the lack of security surrounding the transport of what is arguably the most controversial arms sale in recent memory.

Here are some additional pictures taken of the LAVs in transit. 

Friday, 24 June 2016

Rachel Notely Can't Take a Joke

However, she's fine condemning political participation

Alberta’s NDP, their leader in particular are up in arms over a target shaped like Rachel Notely that was used at a golf tournament last week.  For the life of me I really can’t figure out why. Obviously I understand the offence taken, nobody likes to have their face used as a target for fast moving projectiles. As well, it’s likely few would cheer when they hear their likeness was unceremoniously run over by a golf cart, as was the fate of the target resembling Ms. Notely.

As much the destruction of an effigy made in ones likeness is unpleasant, you have to consider that to even feel that unpleasantness you have to be "effigy worthy". What Ms. Notely fails to consider is the rather disguised compliment in this action. Her political presence and activism has inspired people to actually care about politics! You know what people say about press: no press is bad press, so I can’t blame Ms. Notely for feigning outrage to make the most of this. On the other hand… really ? 

Image result for notley target
(The target in question which used a not
altogether terrible picture of Ms. Notely)

Being in politics is basically asking for ridicule. Political satire is one of the oldest forms of comedy dating almost as far back as written word. Effigy’s are often made of politicians, and they are generally made to be either: very unflattering, or very flammable  - both of which were spared of Ms. Notely’s effigy. 

Some people have responded to this trying to tie violence and gender politics into the issue. Doing so is about as regressive as you can get. Saying that Rachel Notely cannot be treated in the same way as her male counterparts (lets go with this flattering Ralph Klein effigy, and the Rob Ford golf target for similarities sake) is regressive, and misogynistic. The Alberta NDP with Ms. Notely at the helm took power after defeating the Alberta Progressive Conservatives. The Alberta PCs had held power in the province from 1971 till 2015. Needless to say after 44 years of the same government provincially, the Alberta NDP are challenging long held views that the west is nothing but a bastion of conservatism. To do this without expecting any push back is just Ludacris. 
Image result for ludacris
(Rapper and actor Christopher Brain Bridges,
whose stage name I often spell in place of the word "ludicrous")
A normal citizen, albeit in a crass way, created a golf target in the shape of a politician with whom he disagrees politically. In an act of political participation, a person with the right to free speech and press, committed the egregious act of satire against a public figure.

The reason why demonizing this act gets my jimmies so rustled, is because political satire is where my love of politics started. Even before I could fully understand the issues they were mocking, I loved to watch the comedy of This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and the Royal Canadian Air Farce. Heck, the only reason I vividly remember politicians like Joe Clark, and Lucian Bouchard who came long before my time, is because they were impersonated with such gusto. What the heck happened though, sites like The Beaverton which have only recently begun to emerge are about the only evidence Canadians have any sense of humour regarding our own politics. With that said, we haven’t seen sketches like Talking to Americans, News From Away, or Marg Delehunty Warrior Princess in years (to be fair they are still doing this sketch its just not funny anymore). For that matter, does anyone even get the reference anymore? When did Xena go off the air anyway … 2001, almost fifteen years ago, I caution to say it, but that’s probably when Canadian political satire stopped being relevant to Canadians.

Its not like we don’t produce funny people, or even that we don’t produce funny people who make jokes about politicians. These funny folks are born here, but we don't keep them. Half the writing staff of The Daily Show, most notably the wonderful Samantha Bee, were Canucks. Such a pity that program mysteriously went off the air (Warning admitting Trevor Noah took over TDS, is like Admitting there were sequels to The Matrix). 
Image result for samantha bee canada
(One of the top images for the google search
"Samantha Bee Canada" ... I think we've lost her)
If people don’t care enough about something they don’t talk about it with their friends, or their social group let alone participate in it or motivate others to do so. In political science we call this political apathy, and its something that most people in the field agree is sucking the life out of politics. Youth simply don’t vote, and sure maybe Trudeau was the turning point and the 18-25’s will come out in droves for every election from here on in - but I doubt it. 

People of the up and coming generations don’t care about politics. Its not that they don't care about it enough to joke about it, because thats a very different level. To joke about something, or to find a joke funny, you need at the very least some basic context, something most people 18-25 have very little of when it comes to politics. The danger we face when people demonize political satire is that people will cease to care about politics at all. Even the bottom of the barrel, crass, political satire - such as making someones face into a golf target needs to be tolerated, if thats all people have the context to understand (Notely bad HaHa! Hit face with golf ball HaHa! Funny HaHa!). If Canadians are told that even this rudimentary type of political comedy is objectionable, you then have a population who barely care about politics to begin with, don't have the context to understand a complex political joke, and are told the only jokes (or in this case cutout) about politicians they do understand are nothing but objectionable. 

We need political satire if we want people to care about politics, i’ll agree this wasn’t great satire, but to demonize it, is to attack the foundation of political participation. 

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Funding the PM’s partner is not progressive

Spending taxpayer money to fund an office achieved by virtue of marriage is pretty dam regressive 

The idea of awarding someone sole control to hire employees, qualifying them to spend taxpayer money, simply because of their martial status, is simply put, ridiculous. Its 2016 after all, and who someone marries should not directly effect their employment. I certainly consider myself a feminist, though not a well qualified one, but I believe that using up a woman as a political tool, simply because she choose to marry someone reeks of patriarchy. Yes, I know, the PM’s partner could  be a man, but since that doesn’t seem immediately likely, I think  Giving them an entire office to hire and run again, simply because of their choice in partner, is something that if done in a private or crown corporation would be called nepotism. Creating such an office just so your spouse doesn’t have to pay out of pocket to support their fame, might be looked upon as embezzlement. 

Isn't fair and democratic supposed to be the theme for the Trudeau Liberals? After all the Liberals have called to reform the senate, Trudeau famously made Canada's upper house "non-partisan, and for years Justin and the Liberals campaigned against the lack of democracy in Canada's un-elected body. Why then are Justin Trudeau and The Liberals now fighting to create a well funded office, thats not based in any Canadian political convention making far more undemocratic than any current office on the Hill.

When Bill Clinton was running for President in 1992 he made many references to “his policy-minded lawyer minded wife”, by this point the office of the First Lady had long been established, if only unofficially. However most first ladies from the 80’s and 90’s had staffs upwards of twenty people. Tt was a given that whomever was married to Bill, would be in the political eye. Bill joked during election campaign that voters “would get two for the price of one”, implying his wife, experienced in politics would help with Presidential issues. Hilary moved her office to the West Wing as opposed to the more traditional East Wing, she was polled an unprecedented amount by varying american posters, giving plenty of data for her to work with. She used her position to continue a career in politics, that we are now in 2016, seeing the culmination of with her Presidential run. With name, or brand recognition such an important factor in modern politics, the fact that her name has been solidly in the press for more two decades. It would be wholly ignorant to say that her position as first lady did not help eventual career in politics, but on the flip side it would be unlikely any pollster could gauge exactly how much of an effect it had. None the less, my point should be obvious by now. 

By funding the PM’s partner - giving them an office, a press secretary, and all the other trappings of a politician, without any sort of election or due process, gives a person simply by the virtue of their marriage, a rather impressive platform to launch a political career from. It would also seem that their is some undeniable evidence to suggest that a transition from such position to politics is viable. 

We don’t need a funded first lady, not only that but its anti democratic, and possibly an attack on feminism (as I said, i’m not qualified to fully asses this) but it could be a taxpayer funded way to launch a political career. Two Trudeaus does not make a dynasty, but if we fund the first lady of Canada its possible, if not probable that Sophie may inherit the throne. If that happens we won’t just have a political dynasty on our hands, we’ll have a monarchy. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

If The Liberals don’t release a White Paper on defence...

We’re in for a lot more of the same 

For those who don’t know, a White paper is is a repot issued by the government of a state that delivers a highly complex government policy in regards to a specific issue. It  spells out in immense authority: the government’s philosophy and it’s respective polices on the issue, a strategy for procuring or developing the necessary resources and infrastructure associated with the governments purported solution for the issue, and the necessary industry requirements and benefits that support the previous item. It seeks to do this in a way that helps the reader understand the issue, understand the solution, and hopefully agree with the later. 

When a new federal government takes office in Canada there is not a mandate to release such a paper, but often governments seeking to distinguish themselves from their predecessors choose to do so, usually with a paper written about the area in which they wish to make their differences apparent. When speaking of defence policy, according to the governments website, Canada has officially released six white papers on defence. The use of papers was started in Canada in 1964. The most recent paper put out in 2008 I discount for reasons I will defend shortly, but six papers in 52 years mean there is a paper released once every eight and a half years. If we count the 2008 paper, we are right up against that eight year window, and the time could not have come soon enough. 

If you don’t pay attention to defence issues, or Canadian politics (how are you here?) then I have some news for you, the Liberals have been making announcement after announcement regarding defence. Many of these announcements are extensions of campaign promises, such as reopening the bid for Canada’s new multi-role fighter (putting Canada’s role in the F-35 program in jeopardy for dubious reasons, even though it’s arguably the best aircraft available) and some of them are not even really announcements. Rather, they are small pieces of information, like the fact that Canada’s new Single Surface Combatant Vessel will de based on “off the shelf plans”. Most of these announcements are the finishing touch on many plans from the aforementioned 2008 white paper, named: The Canada First Defence Strategy. This policy by the Conservatives, was not in my opinion not a full white paper as it left out some crucial elements. It do not include for instance, any policy regarding industry requirements, or the benefits directly, it also left a few blanks over design specifics. What it did spell out in some depth with the Conservative policy and philosophy on recruitment, mission requirements, arctic sovereignty, funding, among a few other boilerplate defence issues such as global terrorism response. 

While the Canada First Defence Strategy did give specifics on the subjects I mentioned, its scope and authority was lacking as it did not set down industry requirements, nor did it fully spell out procurement in an authoritative way. This is why I defend it is not a true white paper, but I digress.

Despite its shortcomings, the paper followed through on most of its policy and philosophy statements. As well, Harper and the Conservatives completed several of their stated procurement items such as the C-17 Globemaster, C-130J Hercules, CH-47F Chinook helicopters, and Canada’s new Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessel (although the Liberals seem to be taking the credit even though steel had started cutting before Harper left office). It also spelt out funding for new Destroyers and Frigates, funding to update search and rescue aircraft, funding for land combat vehicles, and of course controversial funding for 65 new “next generation” fighter aircraft to replace the CF-18 by 2019. What was left with some ambiguity was the specifics as to what destroyers, frigates, and aircraft would be chosen to replace Canada’s current assets. 

My problem with the Liberals announcements to date, is so far as I can tell, they’ve been shooting from the hip. They have continued their election strategy of separating themselves ideologically from the conservatives, in the F-35 issue for instance they have said much about re-opening the bid, however when you consider the procurement of the F-35 is some eight years in the making, that the planes are both budgeted and scheduled to be complete in three years, slowing down the process by cancelling the contract now is some serious hip fire nonsense. Its not like previous Liberal governments did the same and left us flying 50 year old helicopters that are literately museum pieces to our American neighbours, causing severe monetary strain and seven Canadian military deaths in the process

(A Seaking Helicopter that looks in better condition than Canada's -
on display at the USS Midway floating museum in San Diego CA.)

The politicizing procurement that has occurred is in my opinion, some serious hip fire bullshit for this new batch of Liberals. After Judy Foote’s missing announcement the other day, and various Harjit Sajjan releases, some about …drones? You can see how this apparently impulsive stagey begins to spread. 

If the Trudeau Liberals want to separate themselves ideologically, change Canada's procurement priorities, and overhaul our Country's military philosophy, a White Paper is the way to do it. 

Image result for canada first defence strategy
(The pained  expression of Harjit Sajjan
as he conducts  public consultations
 on Defence Policy)
Shooting from the hip and politicizing procurement (an issue I will write about in greater depth in the coming weeks) is a bad decision, and can have dire consequences for our state. 

Lets hope the defence review that is ongoing, is a precursor to a new Liberal white paper, a decade without a real one is to long, and shooting from the hip, often has a way of hitting yourself in the foot. Its time Justin, its 2016 after all.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Why a BREXIT, is a good thing for Canada

Suck it Mark Carney

(Mark Carney left, holding his severance package
after quitting as Governor of the Bank of Canada)
This piece will be in no way influenced by my dislike of current Bank of England Governor Mark Carney. After all, Mr. Carney has always done what's best for the people he represented. Canada may not have fared half as well in 2008 if it wasn’t for his leadership as Governor of the Bank of Canada. So how can I blame him for forwarding his career? Because hate is irrational - Mark Carney is an opportunistic shrew, who should have stuck with the country who raised him, rather than jump ship and start angling for Lordship. Alright, maybe i’m just a little mad that the UK is reaping benefits from employing one of the modern giants of international finance, and this giant happens to be a Canuck. It’s like our paradox with losing movie stars or musicians to the US. We can breed as much talent as we want, but we don’t have the market to keep these things at home. Oh yeah, Mark Carney is against the BREXIT. So suck it Mark, here’s my take. 

As I've said in the past, the Liberals apparent desire to return Canada to middle power status, rather than our previous delusions of being a great power, is a pragmatic and beneficial move. To get to the point and stop rambling, my argument has a bit to do with this pragmatic move, and a lot do with trade.

As most people know Canada and the US enjoy a pretty huge trading relationship. Our border, and the trade that goes over it, are some of the largest in the world. This was not always the case for Canada. As a former colony of Great Britain we also do a lot of trade with the UK. Most people think US trade has always dwarfed that of trans atlantic trade but, It was only in about the 1960’s that the US surpassed the UK as the our biggest trading partner. 

Bi-lateral trade between the US is a good thing though. Pragmatic through its proximity, beneficial to both nations, we’re already NAFTA and NATO buddies, this is why we are were each others  biggest trading partners. This was a special perk afforded to Canada, or at least we thought it was. We assumed we had a special little place as number one friend of the coolest kid in school. That’s what we thought. But in about 2011 China surpassed little ol' Canada and the US’ biggest trading partner. 

We’ve been undone by China, and no surprise really, proximity can only compete with overwhelming size for so long. Maybe this should be our wake up call to diversify things a little bit though. With another big surprise, i’m not the first one to suggest this either, politicians in the west coast have been pushing for pipelines like the TPP, or the Trans Mountain for ages, politicians in the east are pushing for deepwater ports for Supermax tankers, all in a desperate attempt to sell a fraction of our oil to anyone but the United States. I’m not an economist but it seems like exporting 99% our oil to a single country can be a volatile game. If our primary export market’s need for oil drops suddenly, or if an economic collapse happens, Canada is seriously at risk - in case you’ve been under a rock, both of these things have happened in the last decade. There is a sliver of hope though, and it relies on a large state, friendly to Canada, with seriously high oil prices, reducing some of its trade barriers and potentially looking for new trading partners.

You may have guessed it, i’m talking about the UK. With gas prices upwards of $2.00 a litre Canadian, there’s no reason we can’t tap into some of this inflated market. Without it’s EU trade benefits, the UK will have to pay even more to ship oil across continental Europe. The UK voting to leave he EU means their return to a much more free market economy, one that will likely open up the floodgates to new imports from nations that can offer competitive pricing. Without former EU tariffs this could be Canada.

Even if we were to tap into a small portion this market, the UK itself has nearly twice the population of Canada  making it lucrative as hell. Their economy is the fifth largest in the world, and as far as I can tell, Canada doesn’t currently export much oil to the UK. 

It’s the fifth largest Canadian commodity imported by the UK, after Gold, Nickel, Waste metal, and Uranium. Alberta is maybe not so coincidentally, number 5 on the top provincial exporters  behind the powerhouses of Ontario, Quebec, B.C., and … Newfoundland. Look, I love Newfoundland and the Newfish people, but if a province with a GDP of $3.3billion is in number number three exporter to the UK while Alberta with an economy almost ten times the size plays second fiddle, it might mean we are not exporting as much oil as we could, to a country that seems like they could use it.
This brings us back to my point about middle power status. As Canada continues to angle with China and other states for bigger role in trade and diplomacy as a middle power (regardless of how journalists try to fuck it up) doing the same with one of historical trading partners might just put us back into some sort of grace with them, giving us a more privileged place in diplomatic talks. Canada and the UK both sit on the G7, G22, NATO, UN and countless other treaties. Bringing us closer together with an increased trade relationship could have similar repercussions for our diplomacy, which I shouldn't have to point out would be a good thing.

We’ve been a one trick pony with the United States trade wise for too long, not only have we been surpassed as their largest trading partner, but they are increasingly shifting away from our oil as it is. The BREXIT could have huge consequences for Canada if the UK returns to the truly free market, and we reaffirm our position as a trading partner, and possibly become a middle power between the UK and other states. So I say vote to leave. Suck it Mark Carney. 

Note: I wrote the majority of this piece yesterday before the tragic loss of life of Helen Joanne “Jo” Cox, British Labour MP for Batley and Spen. I don’t feel like anything i’ve said will offend, but most British politicians have suspended their campaigns. I didn’t know of her career previously but from all accounts Jo was a outstanding MP, and the tragic loss of life that occurred is a loss for us all.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Judy Foote and the case of the missing announcement

News flash - there was no “shipbuilding announcement”

Public Safety minister Judy Foote and the Liberals announced two days ago that they were going to streamline the shipbuilding process for Canada’s new Single Surface Combatant warship. They would achieve this with the masterly frugal plan of purchasing an off the shelf plan. This in obvious contrast to those crooked Conservatives who didn’t budget enough money to pay for, or design these ships.

This sounds great!

Here's the catch though, Minister Foote announced nothing, and her jabs at Conservative overspending were baseless. Let me explain why.

See, what really happened was the Liberals opened a backdoor the Conservatives had already left in the shipbuilding plans. Before we get into what the actual plan was before the Liberals rebranded it we should look at the obvious political fodder in the situation. 

Since after all i’m a self proclaimed conservative pundit the question is, who have the Liberals put out of a job with this move? One can assume that if Canada has decided to purchase a warship plan off the shelf as opposed to designing one ourself, there is at least one ship designer who has been put out of a job. 

Well actually there isn’t. The contract as it was awarded never contained design elements for the Single Surface Combatant Vessels (SSCV). Irving Shipyards was to be the sole contractor of the SSCV and of Canada’s new Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV), but this simply gives the company sole right to construct the vessel, hire labour, hire subcontractors and so forth - this does not implicitly give Irving input on the design. The move to award sole contractor status was marred in controversy when it was decided, but changing Irving's status was never even hinted at during Judy's announcement.

Image result for svalbard class
(The Norwegian Svalbard class left,
The Canadian "DeWolf" class right
after $288 million in modifications)
As far as design work goes, Irving did have at least one "design" contract for the smaller ship, the AOPV. Well, this isn't totally true, the AOPV current being constructed in Halifax is not designed by a Canadian (or a Canadian firm). It is a heavily modified version of the Norwegian Svalbard class of Offshore Icebreakers.

As I mentioned the AOPV project was mired with controversy. The cost of the off the shelf Svalbard plans was about $5million. The cost to modify or redesign these plan for Canadian purposes was a staggering $288million. An amount no one could figure out. However since these ships are already being built there’s not a lot the Liberals can do except pay huge penalties for backing out, forcing themselves to find a new contractor, and continue Canada's embarrassing gap in the resources needed to secure our Arctic region. This is likely why the issue of the AOPV cost is being ignored, the Liberals can not afford to stop the ball rolling economically and strategically. Since they have to announce something or fear being out of the media for a few hours, they need a problem to solve. Their new boon to undoggle is the cost of the SSCV.

(Irving Shipyard - A single hall for large ship
construction - with multiple land based points for final
construction on smaller ships)
When Ms. Foote announced that not only would buying off the shelf plans save money, but it could also shave two years of the design process, allowing new warships to begin construction by 2020 - I had to scratch my head. This was exactly what the plan was the whole time… The AOPV weren’t slated to be completed until 2020. The life extension program for the Halifax class frigates completed by the conservatives meant the ships could last till about 2020-2025. So isn’t beginning construction by 2020 exactly what had been planned the whole time? Yes. The Irving shipyard is big, but it simply cannot lay down multiple vessels the size of the SSCV - by its very design.

As far as the design goes, the Conservatives were pragmatic. They gave Irving a piece of the pie in the form of redesigning the AOPV plans (some say this is an inexplicably big amount but that’s another article) but they left the largest of the design contracts (the ones for our new SSCV) up in the air. Designing your own ships is a great move if the economic conditions permit it. It develops high level industry in the home state, and allows for revenue from selling plans. However it is costly. This is why the conservatives likely didn’t double down on the design contracts with Irving. As there was no announcement of SSCVs specifics and no design element awarded for that contract whatever government is in power has the freedom to develop new designs and sell them, or make an economically pragmatic decision and opt for the  cheaper off the shelf option.

This brings us back to Judy Foote’s announcement, which if you’ll remember was that Canada will “streamline the process” of our SSCV by buying off the shelf plans… ok, but which ones? That was always one of two possibilities Judy, you haven’t really said much except you are picking the cheaper solution.

So in short, the Liberals have announced: 

  • They will spend less money on the Military than the conservatives, they will do this by outsourcing design of the SSCV. 

  • Minster Foote also gave us a timeline - that construction of the SSCV would start by 2020(ish)

Here's my observations, organized in the same way:

  • The Liberal Party of Canada slashing military spending is hardly a surprise to anyone.

  • The AOPV redesign cost as i've already pointed out, makes the purchase of off the shelf plans as a "frugal" move, suspicious at best.

  • The timeline announced was exactly the same timeline that we’ve always had. The AOPV can’t be finished any sooner, that is without reducing the numbers (a move I predict will happen before 2020). Our current frigates will last till about 2025, like they were planned too four years ago. 

So basically what we got was an announcement that went like this:
The Liberals are happy to (continue to) overpay for the $288million dollar design of the “off the shelf” Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessel. They are not going to overpay for our Single Surface Combatant Vessel like the (scary old) Conservatives were. The ever frugal Liberals will purchase off the shelf plans (and presumably not pay $288 million to redesign said plans) allowing construction of the Single Surface Combatant to begin in about 2020… exactly when it was planned. 

Great announcement Judy! 
Keep it up!