In honor of the Liberal Party policy convention last week, I thought I'd list off some of their more outstanding achievements in their last 12 years of rule here in the Great White North. I'll probably have to break this down into a few posts since there are just too many things to mention in just one.
I'll think I'll start with the promises kept:
1)The Gun Registry
Some time in 1995, then Justice Minister Allan Rock, proposed a national gun registry for longer barrel weapons (shot guns, rifles, etc..). Hand guns are already require registration in Canada.
The original cost was estimated at $2 million and after the initial influx of cash, was expected to be self sustaining (based on registration fees).
Fast forward to 2005, the gun registry is in place, sort of. No one can confirm what portions of it actually work and many gun owners have not bothered to register their rifles, even when the registration fees were dropped entirely. The estimated cost so far, $1 billion, with several sources claiming the final cost will be closer to $2 billion.
So taking the conservative estimate of ONLY $1 billion this project has had a cost overrun of approximately 50,000%.
That's one for the record books folks!
2)EH-101 Military Helicopter Contracts
During the 1993 federal election campaign, the Liberals vowed to cancel the contract the PC government had just recently signed to replace the aging Sea King helicopters (purchased in 1963) with 50 new EH-101s (at a cost of $4.8 billion).
Calling them "Cadillacs", as by most accounts the EH-101s were considered the best helicopters available, the Liberals flaunted them as an example of PC financial mismanagement and after paying the $500 million dollar fine for canceling, the contract was scrapped.
Eleven years, and several bidding processes later (the various forms of the EH-101 kept winning the bids even when conditions were changed), the Liberals finally announced their replacement for the Sea Kings. 28 Sikorsky S-92s at a cost of $3.2 billion. As Defense Minister Bill Graham called them "the right helicopter for the Canadian Forces at the best price for Canadians." Of course, if you include the fine that was paid, for the price of one Canadian Gun Registry TM, we could of had an extra 22 helicopters, and several years earlier to boot.
Side Note 1: Unlike the EH's, with their three engine design, the Sikorsky, with it two engines, have no option but to go into a "controlled crash" in the event of an engine failure.
Side Note 2: In 2000, the Canadian Military took possession of 15 EH-101 Merlins (a slightly cutback version from the ones ordered in 1992) for use in Search and Rescue operations.
Side Note 3: You will be hard pressed to find any occurrence in the past 12 years of a Liberal member of Parliament flying on a Sea King helo. There are even specific example of the Prime Minister outright refusing to get on one that was specifically sent for him.
This one is undoubtedly the Liberals greatest achievement in office, as they are likely to tell you even if you don't ask. Before 1997, the federal government had only run surplus budgets twice in 36 years. Since 1997, the Liberals have run a surplus every year (ranging from $3.1 Billion to $18.1 billion). While this looks good on the books, the methods used to perform the Herculean task leave much to be desired.
The #1 method used to create a surplus; stop paying the provinces
. The federal payments which are used to pay for everything from healthcare to education have gone down 18% between 1992 and 2001. It's only been since then that transfers have been brought back up to 1993 levels. Of course, during that time the costs have gone up, so the provinces are still left with a larger portion of the bill than they had 12 years ago.
The #2 method. The GST. While not a Liberal invention (it was put in place by the former PC government to combat the deficit) then did use it's removal as a major part of their campaign to win in '93. (more on that later)
The #3 method. Cut budgets of unnecessary departments (like the Department of Defense). Canadian military spending has declined by approx. 12-14% in the past 12 years. This has resulted in a reduction in personnel as well as a lack of modern equipment. While many on the left see this as a benefit, it has made Canada totally dependent on foreign support for our own defense as well as reduced us to little more than a cheerleader for most foreign conflicts. We simply do not have the manpower or equipment to help out like we used to or even to the degree our NATO/UN agreements require.
Some links on the state of the Canadian Military:
Next up, the fun stuff; Promises Broken.