Need to know: Budget cuts mean no new trucks

DND’s $2.1-billion plan for new armoured vehicles falls by the wayside
Soldiers from a Hotel company, Royal Canadian Regiment battle group LAV-3, provided overwatch protection for a coalition convoy on its way to Sangin in Helmand province near Waywand, Afghanistan Friday April 6, 2007 . Six members of the company were killed Sunday by a roadside bomb in the sprawling Maywand district near Helmand province. Four others were wounded. (CP PHOTO/John Cotter)
John Cotter/CP

The story
Canada can’t afford new trucks. The feds expressed doubts months ago that the military could spare the cash for a new fleet of armoured vehicles that would both transport troops and provide an offensive capability. Yesterday, word leaked that the army could scrap the $2.1-billion procurement. The cancellation exposes the military to more howling about its basic ability to buy things effectively, an exercise with which the military has had regular difficulty. The cancelled plan also demonstrates just how tight belts are at the Department of National Defence, where previously lauded purchases are now pipe dreams.

Don’t fret, though. Defence officials remain defiantly proud of their department during these times of recalculated priorities. Julie Di Mambro, a spokesperson for Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, told the Ottawa Citizen that no one beats a Canadian in uniform. “Soldier for soldier, sailor for sailor, airman for airman, the Canadian Armed Forces are once again the best in the world,” she said, adding that Conservatives are giving the troops “the tools they need to get the job done.” The tools seem to be changing, and the next job’s not totally clear, but such is the price of outfitting a military when “a sea of troubles is lapping at our shores.”

What happens next could involved the courts. Three firms that submitted bids for the two-billion-dollar truck procurement are now left holding their own schematics, and they might humbly request the government compensate them for their work. John Ivison reports in the National Post that the procurement process has already cost taxpayers $70 million, and any court settlements could bump that number ever higher. Oh, the complications for a government that so badly wanted to wipe away an evil decade of darkness by spending billions on a bunch of new equipment.

The stat
$80 million: The estimated amount of money spent by three firms on their bids for the $2.1-billion Close Combat Vehicle contract

The quote
“Soldier for soldier, sailor for sailor, airman for airman, the Canadian Armed Forces are once again the best in the world.” —Julie Di Mambro, a spokesperson for Defence Minister Rob Nicholson

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