Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sunday funnies: Peter MacKay’s expanding figures

With the Bernier affair having now taken its 185 pounds of flesh in the shape of the now ignominious “Member for Beauce,” Canada’s face to the world has changed only slightly.

That’s because the frat boy era in Canadian foreign policy won’t truly be over as long as Peter MacKay is still not wiping down the exer-cycles over at DND headquarters.

MacKay it will be recalled was moved into defence to take the place of former arms lobbyist Gordon O’Connor who had gaffed and stumbled his way through a not-short-enough stint at the head of Canada's Forces.

There’s growing evidence that MacKay hasn’t used his time impatiently waiting for his squash partner to reflect on the lessons available from O’Connor’s failure to launch.

As evidence, Macleans’ Hill pundit Aaron Wherry tables this exchange from Friday between MacKay and reporters asking why NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar is having to challenge the government to disclose costs of the Afghanistan mission:

Question: Why can’t you provide a cost for the war in Afghanistan? The NDP say that they’ve been asking questions and they can’t get a figure, not even on the equipment, the military equipment, how much is being spent.

Hon. Peter MacKay: Well, I don’t know why they’re having such a hard time figuring it out. We’ve made numerous attempts to explain the spending over Afghanistan. Clearly we’ve made commitments consistent with the motion that was passed in the House to have more equipment, to protect our soldiers, to help them to do the job, to protect the Afghan people. We’ve had 27 technical briefings. We’ve asked—we’ve answered dozens of questions in the House. We’ve had 19 or 20 committee appearances. The NDP had an opportunity last evening, if they were objecting to the budget implementation, to file some sort of an objection. They did nothing.

Reporter: So can you give us a figure? How much is it costing us, say per month?

MacKay: Well, I’m not going to get into the specifics because we have added, as you know, additional equipment and there are additional procurements happening now in response to the recommendations of the Manley Committee that were endorsed by the House of Commons.

Moderator: One more question, folks.

Reporter: They’re saying you don’t have a cost, you don’t have a figure.

MacKay: Well, we do. Of course we do.

Reporter: Well what is it?

MacKay: Well, we have all kinds of figures.

Ugh. Not unlike O’Connor, MacKay’s first instinct is to arrogantly charge into the breach long before realizing he's without his helmet or webbing.

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