Summer Recess is Fast Approaching
CHRIS MACLEAN
© 2015 FrontLine Defence (Vol 12, No 3)

As for defence procurement and equipping the Canadian Forces, we know there is no new spending because Treasury Board cannot sit to approve anything until the Budget gets passed. Delayed a full month, the Budget didn’t get announced until the end of April, and it takes a week or two to challenge and then pass the Bills to authorize the expenditures. It’s a bit of a snowball effect, everything gets backed up over and over again (to quote the Church Lady: “how conveeenient” for balancing the budget).

No one knows how much will be “in the bank” so to speak, so DND cannot ask Treasury Board to approve any new items until the Budget becomes law. We are already well into this fiscal year, by the way. Apparently such a delay means next to nothing to the Government, other than it spends money less money on defence, and the easier it becomes to balance the books. But they are doing it on the backs of Industry. People are losing their jobs because there has been no activity in many programs... in some cases for years, in others, for decades.

Of course, the budget will get passed, and then it takes a few more weeks to get the paperwork in place using those budget numbers so the wheels can begin to move, but wait!... summer recess is set to start at the end of June – that doesn’t leave much time for the complex process to get cranked up to utilize the new money (again, “how conveeenient”). So when can Treasury Board sit again? Oh wait, we’re expecting and election in the fall, and TB usually waits until about a month after an election before it sits again... so now we are into November and nothing has happened – other than the defence sector has been steadily laying people off, of course.
 
I’m even more convinced than ever that lapsed funds are the dependable “ace in the hole” for this government’s economic plan. It is a stealth strategy. Brilliant in fact. The government does not have to reduce the defence budget, it can look like the good guy in all of this, if one doesn’t look too deep. It’s a complicated shell game but, at the end of the day, by not being able to spend its allotted funds, DND turned back $2B or so last year (as it does in varying amounts every year of late), and VAC turned back $1B.

That’s a lot of money going to pay down the debt, and would be great if our Canadian Armed Forces were sitting around twiddling their collective thumbs. But no, they are putting their lives on the line every day, responding to escalating violence around the world and ­catastrophic natural disasters, handling domestic taskings such as search and rescue, maintaining a presence in the great white North... They work hard and cannot afford to have substandard equipment; they need ruggedized and mil spec kit that is top quality, does the job well, and “keeps on ticking.” If there is one axiom our procurement decision-makers should adopt, it is “get the best quality you can – even if it costs more initially – you won’t regret it in the long run”. Isn’t that the criteria we all want to adhere to when we make important purchases like homes, cars and appliances, even clothing? (And our lives don’t even depend on those decisions!) However, all is for naught if Treasury Board can’t approve any programs.

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© 2015 FrontLine Defence

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