The Royal Canadian Air Force has been caught in the act of raiding a museum for aircraft parts!
The search-and-rescue squadron at CFB Trenton contacted the aviation museum on that base with an odd request in the summer of 2012: they needed two inertial navigation units to keep their planes flying. The squadron contacted the museum’s executive director, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Colton, with a request to peruse the planes on display for parts. Considering this story made the BBC, we really ought to hang our heads in shame. Or rather our Department of Defence does. Dan Ross, the former head of military procurement, agrees that this is an embarrassing situation. As does the Attorney General, and air force brass. Our esteemed Minister of Defence, Rob Nicholson, a man who has had no previous experience in the military, defended the status quo. It appears this is how the Department of Defence reduces, reuses, and recycles! Elizabeth May must be so proud of their efforts, if not their results. Whatever the DND has instead of a heart is in the right place!
According to a statement released by Nicholson’s office, “the RCAF took the initiative to remove these functional, perfectly good parts and use them effectively.” I suppose this is what members of the government mean when they assure us their government provides adequate resources for our armed forces; there has to be a museum on hand from which they can take parts. Granted, since this is a search and rescue plane we’re talking about, MPs likely aren’t interested. Our government can shell out money to find 200 year old shipwrecks, but they don’t care much for government sponsored rescue missions for living people. The living can’t be counted upon to vote Conservative!
Still, I question why the government continues to chastise what they called “The Period of Darkness” in defence spending (the Chretien era). In Tragedy in the Commons, Loat and MacMillan point out that, at the time, the main opposition parties (Bloc Quebecois and Reform-of which Stephen Harper was member) supported even harsher cuts across the board. Then, when the sun came out again in 2006 after the Conservatives won their first landslide minority government, our military’s funding was saved! No more cuts, no more procurement delays, no more firing! Until we realize that, nine years later, these things are still going on! The tables have merely been turned on the current party.
Thumb-twiddling and feet dragging when it comes to buying shiny new planes, boats, helicopters, and weaponry is one thing. Forcing our men and women in uniform to scavenge use museum pieces is another. I think Einstein said that if World War III was fought with nukes, then the next war would be fought with bows and arrows. Our armed forces might not have to wait that long before we start building trebuchets and practicing archery.