HMCS Protecteur takes part in Operation Friction

Election 2015: military policy a battleground

From veterans care to the long-awaited F-35 stealth fighter, parties pitch their approaches to the Canadian Forces

A rundown navy, aging fighter jets and closing of dedicated Veterans’ Affairs offices are playing a central role in the campaign for the Oct. 19 federal election.

The Conservative government has been in a running battle with the Public Service Alliance of Canada over the closure of nine regional Veterans Affairs offices, including those in Prince George and Kelowna. The union ran TV ads with veterans describing difficulty getting mental and physical health support.

Veterans’ Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole wrote to PSAC national president Robyn Benson in July, calling the ads “intentionally misleading.” He said the government is opening 27 dedicated mental health clinics, training staff on veterans programs in integrated Service Canada offices, and continuing to spend more on support for veterans as their numbers decline.

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair promises to reopen the nine dedicated offices, and add $454 million over four years to Veterans Affairs. The NDP says the money would go to improving long-term care, survivor pensions, mental health treatment and expansion of the program to support veterans in their homes.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has announced that if he becomes prime minister, he will pull Canada out of the development of the U.S.-led F-35 fighter project, which has been plagued by delays and cost overruns. Trudeau said the F-35’s stealth, first-strike abilities are not what Canada needs, and other fighters would serve Canada’s purposes at lower cost.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper noted it was the previous Liberal government that committed Canada to join Australia, Britain and other countries in supporting the F-35, and withdrawing would be a severe blow to the country’s aerospace industry.

With six of the Royal Canadian Airforce’s 30-year-old CF-18 fighter-bombers taking part in a U.S.-led mission against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria, the Liberals and NDP are calling for Canada to focus on humanitarian relief instead of combat.

The Royal Canadian Navy, another traditional name restored by the Conservatives, is awaiting new ships from the Conservatives’ $26 billion shipbuilding program, Canada’s largest ever. Some contracts have been awarded to Seaspan, B.C.’s largest shipyard, which is also building new research vessels for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

HMCS Protecteur, the navy’s only West Coast supply ship, was decommissioned after a 2014 fire off Hawaii. Protecteur was built in Halifax 46 years ago, and is being temporarily replaced by a former U.S. Navy ship on loan from Chile. Replacements for Protecteur and its East Coast equivalent HMCS Preserver, also retired, are expected to take six more years.

Veterans Affairs Canada spending graph, July 2015.

Just Posted

Chilliwack Sports Hall of Fame reveals Class of 2019

Longtime Chilliwack Curling Club manager Bruce Renwick is being inducted as a builder.

Table games like Blackjack coming this fall for Chances Chilliwack

Council approved the move to add live-dealer table games with a vote of 3-2

Body found believed to be missing Chilliwack senior with dementia

Police says case is now in the hands of the coroner

Kent quarry opposition receives federal support

Green Party leader Elizabeth May wrote to the provincial government to oppose the quarry application

Mammoth sturgeon catch was ‘a fish of a lifetime’ for Chilliwack guide

Sturgeon was so enormous it tied for largest specimen ever tagged and released in the Fraser

Trudeau vows to stand firm against ‘increasingly assertive’ China

China has accused Canada of meddling in its affairs

Two Vancouver police officers bitten, scratched after ‘violent’ arrest

Police will recommend charges against a 50-year-old man

B.C. father tells judge he did not kill his young daughters

Andrew Berry pleaded not guilty to the December 2017 deaths

Police watchdog investigating two officers after Langley teen’s suspected overdose

According to IIO, two officers were deployed to help Carson Crimeni but did not locate him before he died

UPDATED: Kelly Ellard gets day parole extended for six more months, overnight leave

Kelly Ellard was convicted of killing 14-year-old Reena Virk in 1997

New study suggests autism overdiagnosed: Canadian expert

Laurent Mottron: ‘Autistic people we test now are less and less different than typical people’

Impaired driving charge laid in 2018 crash in Delta that killed teen

Olivia Malcolm and her 20-year-old friend were standing behind their vehicle when they were hit by a car

B.C. hockey player excited to join Humboldt Broncos

Defenceman Sebastien Archambault played last two seasons with Junior B Sicamous Eagles.

Most Read