$18.1 billion, my eye


If your country is going to go to war, sometimes it’s nice to be an American. At least American citizens, through their congress, are able to learn just how much their wars cost. A parliament is not a good instrument for keeping tabs on war costs; even less so when it is a parliament controlled by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.


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$18.1 billion, my eye

  1. “…$18-billion by the time troops are withdrawn in 2011, about $1,500 extra for every household in Canada, Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page reported today.”

    There goes that ivory back scratcher I was going to buy. Damn you, Harper!

  2. Yeah, but we know to basically double whatever number whatever government tells us anyway. This is one of those ‘surprising non-surprises’ IMO. I don’t think it changes many opinions on the war, or the election.

  3. “Canadian military mission has cost more to date than the government has reported, largely because his office, unlike the government, includes the huge cost of extra wear and tear on military equipment deployed in Afghanistan”

    The Americans have the same accounting ‘issues’ as we do. What is a specific cost due to war in Afghanistan compared to what would have been spent anyways, war or no war.

    I have been thinking recently that I prefer Canadian system because we don’t inflate money Bills from $700 billion to $850 billion within a week for no good reason and they aren’t laden with earmarks for wooden arrows and the like.

  4. I have to agree. I don’t expect a report on the cost of the Afghan war to change much of anything wrt the election.

  5. At least American citizens, through their congress, are able to learn just how much their wars cost.

    Oh, come on. With all of those black budgets and covert wars?

    You can’t be serious.

  6. Andrew: the Quebec electorate might not be too happy with the costs of this.

  7. i really think this will hurt the conservatives. ..this can only speed up their gradual slip in the polls

  8. Fun fact: the PBO’s report uses publicly available numbers gleaned from such sources as Reports to Parliament on the Mains, Supps, Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance. A journalist could have written this! Why didn’t you?

  9. To those willfully blind to the facts;

    Chretien/Martin committed troops in first place, sending them over woefully under equipped.

    2002-2008 was projected at $8 Billion.

    This report projects total costs for the period from 2002-2011 at $18 Billion.

    This report also includes capital expenditures on major equipment, CIDA development aid, etc.

    The spin being put on this is just more Liberal manipulation and lies.

  10. Umm, aren’t these figures exactly in line with what Harper has been saying? About $8m to date?

    “Canada has spent $7.7 billion to $10.5 billion on costs related to its mission in the past six years…”

    In addition, remind me how many of those 6 years were governed by the CPC?

  11. Meh. This isn’t just a problem with the Harper government. Try finding out how much our military deployments in the Balkans cost. I bet Canadians would be surprised to find out that they weren’t cheap. And the Chrétien government didn’t go out of its way to publicize the numbers.

    As for the report, it’s useful and it highlights the incremental costs of the mission. It also tells us that the executive and the legislature need a common accounting methodology to ensure that they aren’t speaking a different numerical language. And the report tells us that departments could do a much better job at disclosing how much their operations actually cost.

    The report’s biggest flaw: it assumes that if the CF wasn’t in Kandahar, it would be sitting around bases in Canada. A very unlikely assumption that skews their findings. Kandahar may cost more than other missions that the CF has been on in the recent past, but those previous missions were still costly. The real question is how much more money Canada is devoting to Kandahar compared to how much it would be spending if we were deployed elsewhere.

  12. This is one hell of an election campaign. The big story today will be if the government should or shouldn’t be using accelerated depreciation on military equipment in a warzone. Finally, the CAs get their moment in the sun!

  13. Actually Phil, the incremental costs for Balkans were reported. They were about $1 billion a year in the mid-90s, but were probably less by the end, as the mission was dramatically reduced by the time the troops were finally brought home in 2002. Ten years in the Balkans, probably $8 billion plus…

    On the matter of wear and tear, armoured vehicles look very pretty sitting in a compound at Petawawa but the minute you start driving them, they tend to get into trouble. Throughout the Balkans (I served in Croatia) vehicle wearout was a constant issue, given that the vehicles tended to get used every day. Operations are like that. You use the equipment until it breaks. Even before the troops came home in ’02 both the M113s and the AVGPs were put out to pasture and were replaced by the LAVs. No doubt the same thing will happen with the LAVS in 2011. An auditor worth his salt surely would have pointed this out.

  14. Davey: I agree with you. The costs were reported, but not widely publicized. I also agree that any operation is going to wear down equipment. That’s my beef with the Page report. It assumes that if the CF wasn’t in Kandahar, the force would be hanging out in bases across the country. That’s just silly. No Canadian politician can resist the urge to deploy the CF on some mission or other.

    Hence, if we’re going to calculate what the Kandahar mission costs, we shouldn’t assume that the CF would be idle if it weren’t on this particular mission. Rather we should attempt to understand how much more Kandahar has cost relative to other possible deployments.

  15. Pathetic Liberal spin on a paltry figure of $18 billion. Even if it is $30 billion, even $50 billion – that’s over 10 years, out which for 7 years there was no such accounting as this report. And who was in charge? The Liberals.

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