Liberals and Cons fail us with Afghanistan

Its official, Canada is dumping more money into Afghanistan than it spends on Housing, transit, and Childcare combined.

Canada has spent at least $7.7 billion to $10.5 billion on costs related to its mission in Afghanistan in the past six years, and may spend $13.9 billion to $18.1 billion on the mission by the end of the 2010-11 budget year, according to The Fiscal Impact of the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan tabled by parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page on Thursday.

That is an enormous number. As i stated above, that is much more than we have spent on building affordable housing, expanding and repairing public transit and Childcare.

We may have spent much more than the amounts Parliaments Budget Officer says he can account for due to a lack of government consistency and transparency. The report goes onto say they likely understate the full costs of the mission.

These costs do not include the those of the the day to day military costs such as salaries

The figures released Thursday are incremental costs — that is, they do not include costs such as salaries that would be incurred anyway.

The report does go onto to criticize both the Liberal and Conservative governments for their lack of accountability and openness in reporting budget numbers. Page says, "To date, Parliament has been provided with only limited information, often after the fact, on these costs, and has not been given estimates on future costs that may be incurred in the support of the veterans of these conflicts."

Annual cost overruns for the mission up until 2006-07 ranged from 29 per cent in 2002-03 to a whopping 310 per cent ($321 million) in 2005-06, based on planned versus actual spending figures.

The Harper government campaigned on its promise to be more accountable and open in government spending. Who knew before this report of the cost overruns either under the Liberals or the Conservatives. Both these parties have hid the costs either deliberately or through ineptness.

In fact it has been impossible to get a cost for the war in Afghanistan prior to this report from the Parliament Budget Officer and even he says that the costs are much likely much more than those he has given us.

Two years ago Jack Layton called for NATO and the government of Afghanistan to begin talks with the Taliban as it was clear a war effort would not be winnable. Layton was laughed at, yet an unusal ally supporting a the same view was republican sentaor trent lott after his visit to the country.

Recently the commander of the British forces has said that its vital that talks begin as the fighting can not win. This is confirmation of Layton's position made clear two years ago. We are spending Billions on a war we can not win. We may as well be pour the money into the toilet.

Where could we spend these incremental dollars in the next few years. At best we will see another eight billion dollars poured into a losing war effort in the next 4 years.

Worst of all, most shameful of all, are the 98 Canadians, including one diplomat killed in this war. They will never come back, their families have lost more than any of us. This was a bad political decision to go into afghanistan and its been made much more so because we have decided to stay there.

You can read the whole report: Report of the Parliamentary Budget Officer: Fiscal impact of the Afghan mission

see also:

Afghanistan by the Numbers

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Mark Francis said...

Local diplomacy is vital in Afghanistan. As soon as this election is over, we can be sure that Harper, if still PM (sadly likely), either won't hold discussions, or will sabotage them.

Afghanistan historically has been placated by making deals.

I still think the smartest thing we could do would be to buy the entire Afghanistan opium crop every year at a good price.

Ricky Barnes said...

Mark, you are right, it is clear diplomatic efforts are needed. As too buying up the opium crop, you bet. That is a bargain for the west for sure.