In 2004, under then Prime Minister Paul Martin, the government set out to purchase 2-3 Joint Support Ships (JSS). The JSS was supposed to be a jack of all trades ships. It was supposed to be able to replenish frigates and destroyers at sea, carry troops and equipment, and act as a floating hospital and command and control vessel. Problem was the government insisted the ships be built in Canada (this seems to be the number one problem with buying any military equipment for the CF). Canadian shipyards could not build the ships with the budget that was allocated, around $2.3 billion for two ships, so the project was cancelled in 2008. It was restarted a year later with a ship design that was more humble and a project with a larger budget, $2.6 billion for two ships. The conservative government mulled about building the hulls in the Netherlands and finishing the ships in Canada which might have worked. But, the shipbuilders and ship worker unions howled and that didn’t go anywhere. It should be noted that the Royal Netherlands Navy is building their own JSS called the Karel Doorman with essentially the same characteristics we were looking for. The ship will cost them about $480 USD, nearly a third of what we were willing to pay per ship.

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Dutch Joint Support Ship – Karel Doorman

It is now 2013 and no contract to build the ship has been signed to say nothing about bringing the ships into operational readiness with the RCN.  Remember, this is part of the governments much toted 2010 National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (which I suspect will end up much like the Avro Arrow – cancelled due to high costs). The JSS are supposed to enter service in 2017-18, 13-14 years after the project was started. To put things in perspective, that’s more than twice as long as our involvement in WWII. On a side note, it begs the question of how we can be expected to fight wars in the future if it takes us longer than the length of the engagement just to buy equipment. Not a single Sea King has been replaced yet despite the project starting in 1982, over 30 years ago. The JSS project is entering its 10th year and no contract has been signed. The new F-model Chinooks that we desperately need for Afghanistan will be delivered after we pull out of that country. This is quite down right pathetic.

The JSS in its original form is all but dead. Now, we’re looking at buying a simple replenishment vessel probably of the Berlin-class design. However, the Parliamentary budget officer is warning that the costs for the project could be higher than the already outlandish $2.6 billion. The costs could reach $4.13 billion, or over $2 billion per vessel. Considering the conservative government is looking at axing the Defence budget by $2 billion this year to ~$18 billion, or about 1.0% of GDP (lower than Liberals in the 90s I might add) I find it outlandish that they’re prepared to waste so much money just to have the ships built in Halifax or Vancouver. By the way James Moore, how’s the CBC doing this year?

To add insult to injury, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the civilian-manned support ships for the Royal Navy, are purchasing 4 replenishment vessels under the MARS tanker program to be built in South Korea by Daewoo (arguably the foremost shipbuilder in the world). These ships are slightly larger than the Berlin-class. What is the British government paying for these 4 vessels? £452M or about $686M USD. Not per ship but for all four. The per unit cost is around $170M. If we somehow manage to keep the cost for the JSS at $1.3B per unit, that will still be over 7.5x what the British are paying. If the cost goes up to ~$2B per JSS, we’re looking at almost 12x the cost.

The new Tide Class Royal Fleet Auxiliary tankers will come into service from 2016

MARS Tanker

I don’t like using inflammatory rhetoric but this stupidity has to stop! How can a supposedly pro-military, fiscally conservative party govern in this manner? And it’s not like the conservative party doesn’t understand the high costs of building ships in Canada. Take this gem from finance minister Jim Flaherty in the fall of 2010.

Imported cargo ships, tankers and large ferries will no longer be subject to a 25 per cent tariff, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced Friday.

The measure is aimed at making it cheaper for Canadian shipowners to replace aging fleets with more modern and more efficient vessels…

“These were tariffs that don’t serve any purpose because … the ships to which they apply are not capable of being made competitively in Canada,” Flaherty told reporters in St. Catharines, Ont.

What ships would this apply to?

The measure applies to all general cargo vessels, tankers, and ferries longer than 129 metres.

The Karel Doorman and the MARS tanker are cargo/tanker vessels around 200m in length. The Berlin-class is slightly smaller at 173m. So in other words, Canadian shipyards cannot build cargo and tanker vessels of this size competitively according to the Finance Minister. That was his reason for abolishing the 25% tariff on them. But in the same year, the conservative government decided that they were going to build these same vessels in Canada for the RCN. Can some explain the logic, or lack thereof, with this government?

When the long-gun registry was repealed one of the common arguments made against getting rid of it went something like this: ‘If car owners have to register their cars, why shouldn’t gun owners have to register their guns?’ And to the unsuspecting public that might appear like a reasonable point to make. However, the truth is car owners don’t have to register their car. They only have to register their car if they wish to use public roads. It would be akin to making gun owners register their guns if they use their guns on public lands (ie. for deer hunting). Of course, no one could possibly justify such a system would have any impact on gun crime since I suspect most criminals committing crimes with guns don’t spend their spare time in the fall season cold and wet looking for Bambi.

But that just deals with the registry. What happens if we take a look at what gun laws in this country would be like if we applied the rationale to firearms as we apply to vehicles. For fun, we’ll do the opposite and see what vehicle laws would look like if we apply the rationale of the firearms act to them.

Do vehicle owners require a license, a safety course, or a background check to purchase or own a vehicle? The answer is no. Like with registering a vehicle, a vehicle license is only required to operate vehicles on public roads. Even though vehicles are responsible for numerous deaths in Canada each year and vehicles are used routinely used to commit or facilitate crimes a license, safety course, and background check are not required to purchase one. If we applied this reasoning to the firearms act, the entire firearms licensing system as it is structured (for possession and/or acquisition) would not exist.

What about storage laws? Are vehicle owners required to store their vehicles according to certain regulations subject to the Criminal Code of Canada? For example, are cars required to be stored in locked garages and when not stored in lock garages made to be inoperable by the owner such as having a car key stored in a locked safe or placing a tire clamp on? The answer is no. Yet gun owners are required to lock their firearms in a safe, apply a trigger lock, and/or remove the bolt of the firearm when placing them in storage. Are cars required to have their fuel drained after their parked to ensure that they are only in a ready state when the user intends to use them? The answer is no. Yet the Firearms Act requires guns be unloaded prior to storage. To the best of my knowledge, there are no government set regulations or laws pertaining to how a privately owned vehicle may be stored on private property. And if there are, they certainly aren’t found under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Failure of a gun owner to abide by the Firearms Act with respect to safe storage laws will most likely result in criminal charges, uncompensated confiscation and destruction of firearms, 10-year prohibition of firearm ownership, and possible jail sentencing. And even when firearms are store according to regulations, firearms owners often face unsafe storage charges if they dare to use a firearm for self-defense as was the case with Ian Thomson of Welland, Ontario. What would the public reaction be if vehicle owners faced criminal charges, confiscation and destruction of their vehicles without compensation, a 10-year driving suspension, and a jail sentence for not parking their vehicle on their own property correctly? But if it saves one life (and ruins hundreds of others in the process) it’s worth it!

The cousin to safe storage laws are safe transport laws. Safe transport laws are those laws required when transporting a firearm from one place to another without the purpose of operating them during transport. The automobile equivalent is like having your vehicle placed on a flatbed or towed from one place to another. It is also common to see a Winnebago pulling a car or to have a motorcycle, dirt bike, ATV, or snowmobile on a trailer behind a pick-up truck. Typically the laws pertaining to transport of non-operating vehicles deal with ensuring that they do not endanger the unsuspecting public by unintentionally coming undone while be towed or obstructing important vehicle components like brake lights and turn signals. When transporting a firearm, the laws are considerably more strict. The main difference is that firearms must not be visible, must be unloaded, and must be placed in a lockable compartment of the vehicle. Restricted firearms have added restrictions in that they must have a trigger lock on them and placed in a locked container. Prohibited firearms are subjected to the same conditions as restricted firearms but must also have the bolt removed. None of these comparably apply to the transport of vehicles.

While gun-control activists are keen to defend the gun-registry on the basis that vehicle owners must register their vehicles, they neglect to mention that vehicle owners are only required to register their vehicles for the purpose of operating on public roads while firearms owners were (and in the case of those who own restricted and prohibited firearms still) required to register their firearms at all times or face criminal charges. But if gun-control activists are so keen to compare vehicle laws to gun laws with regards to registration, why are they silent when it comes to other aspects of those laws? I suspect the answer lies in the fact that most of the Firearms Act would have to be repealed or rewritten if gun owners were treated on par with vehicle owners.

Right-to-Work

Posted: October 25, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,
Saskatoon’s United cabs and Blueline taxis accused of breaking law
Reported by Zahir Muslun
First Posted: Oct 18, 2011 9:06am | Last Updated: Oct 18, 2011 11:37am
Saskatoon’s United Cabs and Blueline Taxi have been accused of breaking the law by the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union, citing the Provincial Trade Union Act which requires all employees to join the union as a condition of employment.

The problem is that some drivers don’t want to voluntarily be a part of the union.

One driver, who anonymously contacted News Talk Radio, said the CAW is out of line to force drivers to associate themselves with the union.

In an e-mail to News Talk Radio, he said drivers list themselves as “self-employed” when they file their income tax.

On November 15 the CAW will press the issue further by collecting the names of all the non-unionized drivers, putting their name in a hat and randomly drawing 10 names.

The union will notify the cab companies of those names and offer them a choice, obey the Trade Union Act or face termination.

Edited by News Talk Radio’s Sabeen Ahmad.

If I have a right to join a union I should have the right to not join a union. If I have a right to pay union dues then I should have a right to not pay union dues. If I have a right to picket during a strike I should have the right to work during the strike. It is time we were allowed to exercise our basic rights to not associate with a union as a condition of employment.

The government is going ahead to abolish the LGR with bill C-19. This is hardly unexpected but it is nonetheless welcome news. The bill doesn’t address other gun-related issues but it does stipulate that all the records for long-guns must be destroyed. Another bonus is that the CFC no longer needs to be consulted prior to a transfer of a non-restricted firearm.

That being said, there are many, many other issues that MUST be addressed with regards to firearms laws in Canada. Ideally, a full repeal of C-68 and C-17 would be welcome but in lieu of that I would like to see a more encompassing firearms bill in the next year to include but not limited to the following:

  • Doing away with ATT permits (permits required to transfer restricted firearms)
  • Replacing of the current three licence system (PAL, RPAL, POL) with a FAC (Firearms Acquisition Certificate) system
  • Eliminate the invasive questioning, references, and personal divulgence of information that’s currently part of the 8 page licensing application
  • Decriminalizing the legal possession of firearms (currently, if your license lapses you are considered a criminal and face up to four years in jail)
  • Repealing the requirement to have a license to buy ammunition
  • Repeal of the safe storage and transport laws or a significant reworking of them to allow gun-owner’s discretion and to prevent criminal charges against gun owners who use guns in self-defence
  • Reclassifying all semi-auto, pump, lever, or bolt action rifles or shotguns as non-restricted instead of the current structure which has similar rifles and shotguns classified arbitrarily as non-restricted, restricted, or prohibited
  • Reclassifying all pistols as restricted instead of the current classifications which prohibits shorter barrel and smaller caliber handguns
  • Allow restricted firearms to be shot on private property
  • Allow prohibited firearms to be brought to a range
  • Allow handgun hunting
  • Elimination of magazine capacity limits (currently 5 rounds for semi-auto rifles and 10 rounds for handguns)

I think these recommendations are rather reasonable and I would be remissed if the government didn’t address most if not all of the above issues I mentioned during their mandate.

Obviously, the Conservative party would be a financial beneficiary of the removal of this subsidy visa vis their left-wing political adversaries (Liberals, NDP, Bloc, and Greens). But I’ve come to realise that the biggest the benefit of removing this subsidy is that the Conservative will become much more dependent financially on their supporters.

It didn’t strike me until the budget was released. I was pleased the Tories got a majority but it seems that they don’t intend to “rock the boat” too much. No big tax cuts anytime soon – although Harper did promise income splitting and Flaherty is hinting at flattening the tax brackets once the budget is balanced. No privatization of major crown corporations that have become sunk money holes and outlived their usefulness as public entities (Canada Post, CBC, Via Rail, etc.). Reform era issues like the repeal of Bill C-68 and a Triple-E Senate seem to have fallen by the wayside in favour of lesser more ‘pragmatic’ objectives.

All in all, the majority Conservatives seem to be somewhat underwhelming. It’s sort of refreshing to see them make realistic campaign promises that they fully intend to accomplish but it would be nice if they went a little further. The Conservative base can’t be too pleased with what they’ve seen.

And that’s where the $2/vote subsidy comes into focus. The fact is, if the Conservative party doesn’t please its supporters, its supporters will vote will their wallets and Tory fundraising will take a serious hit. So now the CPC will be financially beholden to their supporters and will have to start acting like Conservatives or suffer the consequences.

Repeal of Gun-Control

Posted: May 11, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

I’m a pragmatist so I don’t expect to see a lot get accomplished in this first conservative majority but there are some things I really would like to see gone. Here’s a list of the top 10 gun control laws I want to see repealed. The order is largely based on my perceived likeliness of passage. For example, #10 would normally be higher up on the list.

  1. Repeal of the long-gun registry
  2. Repeal of safe storage laws (seriously, how many gun owners acting in self-defense have been charged under this law?)
  3. Repeal of magazine capacity limits
  4. Repeal of Authorization to Transport permits
  5. Repeal of the five-year license (perhaps a 10-year or lifetime license)
  6. Repeal of most of the invasive application process (re: especially those pertaining to one’s personal life)
  7. Repeal of the onerous firearms classifications (ie. no restriction or prohibition status based on a rifle’s or pistol’s respective barrel length)
  8. Allowing handguns for hunting
  9. Repeal of the subjective elements of the Authorization to Carry permits to allow provinces to issue ATC permits to law-abiding citizens
  10. Reclassification of firearms to non-restricted status including prohibited firearms like the FN-FAL

If by draw they mean one only bests their main opponent by 19 points. I guess if Harper had bested Ignatieff by 20 points they might have declared it a slight win. Who knows, maybe a Conservative majority is also considered a draw too. Or perhaps when they said the debate was a draw, they meant between Ignatieff and Layton. It’s really too hard to for a rube like me to decipher the meaning of statements from our intellectual superiors.