Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page released his figures today on the cost of the Canadian contribution to the war in Afghanistan. Sort of
. On a day when a major U.S. intelligence study warned that the war in Afghanistan is worsening and the situation there is in a "downward spiral", Canadians were told their government can't tell them how much their contribution to the mission will cost.
Several departments, including Foreign Affairs, the Canadian International Development Agency, the Correctional Service of Canada and Veterans Affairs, refused to turn over information to parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page about what their organizations are spending in Afghanistan. That, in turn, limited Mr. Page's attempt to determine the true cost of the mission for taxpayers.
Mr. Page released his report yesterday noting that based on the information he did receive, the government will have spent up to $18.1 billion on Afghanistan by 2011. That works out to $1,500 per Canadian household, his report said.
But that is far from the whole story, said officials in the newly created oversight office. Although the report cites a range of $13.9 billion to $18.1 billion to 2011, several relevant departments -- including Foreign Affairs and CIDA, the military's two main partners in Afghanistan -- refused to give Mr. Page's office additional figures.
Officials with Mr. Page's organization said the true cost of the mission would be significantly higher, but they couldn't say by how much.
"I think we need to do a lot in terms of transparency," Mr. Page said.
The government originally put the cost of the Afghanistan mission at around $8 billion.
It's okay, though. *WE* don't get to know how much money this war is costing Canada, but it's under control. The US Congress knows. In some cases, Congress is given Canadian information that is withheld from Canadian lawmakers. For instance, in June Congress was informed that Canada's Defence Department was going to spend up to $114 million on new howitzers, while Parliamentarians were kept in the dark on the purchase of the U.S. equipment. Similar howitzers are already in use by Canadian Forces in Afghanistan.
CUPE is, by the way, running a contest. If you were the Canadian Government, what could you do with 18 Billion Dollars
I can't quite help noticing that the Ottawa Citizen's Headline today is "Can we afford this war?"
And I can't help feeling that that question's a little late in coming. That if this is what it takes to get us to question the rightness of what we're doing there, well, as I said above, I'll take what I can get. But something has gone terribly wrong.
What could you do to make the world a better place with 18 billion dollars and one hundred Canadians