Highest bidder

We tease Le Devoir because we love it. You had to read that paper’s Alec Castonguay this morning to begin to understand the true extent of the Harper government’s clapped-together, carefully-obscured, clumsily-exercised plan to rebuild the Roman legions on Canadian soil. I refer, of course, to the 20-year, $30-billion defence plan, which the Globe is calling a $50-billion defence plan and which Le Devoir explains — I believe credibly— is actually a $96-billion defence plan. Details after the jump.

“The ‘Canada First’ strategy of the Department of National Defence calls for new spending of $96 billion over 20 years, which is three times what Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Monday in Halifax. The five largest military procurement projects alone will incur costs reaching $45 to $50 billion,” Alec writes.

Note the Globe‘s peculiar choice this morning to total only capital costs in their accounting of a plan that will also include increases to operating budgets. It’s like reporting that your housing costs for the next 20 years will include kitchen renovations but not mortgage payments or rent. But then, I wasn’t at the briefing yesterday and I’m willing to believe it was simply incomprehensible. Because as far as anyone can tell, that’s the Harper government’s strategy.

After laying out the math in a way that seems to me impeccable, Castonguay writes: “Why was this amount not made public Monday? The office of the Defence Minister, Peter MacKay, did not return Le Devoir’s call yesterday. The military officers present at the technical briefing were not able to explain this ‘confusion’ on the amounts.

“Tuesday, a defence industry source had told Le Devoir that a sum close to $100 billion had been annexed to the real Canada First document, which will not be made public because it is judged to be too precise and controversial.”

And indeed, the prime minister’s Monday Halifax speech, which our friends at The Torch tell us went online last night at 9 p.m., contains no estimate of costs whatsoever. Neither does the background document. As for whatever Peter MacKay said after Stephen Harper said “Now I will call on Minister MacKay to give some of the details,” last night Canada’s military community was still waiting to see a transcript.

My best guess for the secrecy and the fourth-rate, Keystone Kops execution is that the whole strategy was written by Wajid Khan.

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