NDP slams Conservatives over lack of decision on naval supply ship
Published Thursday, May 28, 2015 12:31PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 28, 2015 3:57PM EDT
The NDP is accusing the Conservative government of failing to ensure the Canadian Forces have the equipment they need, after it was revealed that cabinet yet again avoided making a decision on whether to convert a commercial ship into a naval supply ship.
The Royal Canadian Navy has been without supply ships since the announced retirement of HMCS Preserver and its sister ship HMCS Protecteur in November 2014.
Government records show navy mechanics had at one point been combing eBay for parts in an attempt to keep Preserver on duty.
New supply ships won’t be built until at least 2020, and could be even further delayed as construction has yet to begin on the Joint Support Ship project.
Government documents show the navy has been exploring its options for filling the gap. Cabinet has considered employing a vessel from an allied navy or leasing a converted commercial ship, but decided further study is needed before choosing either.
NDP MP Jack Harris said during question period on Thursday that the failure to make a decision is evidence the government’s military procurement strategy has failed.
“These Conservative delays threaten shipbuilding jobs and prevent our military from getting needed equipment,” Harris said. “How can the minister allow these unacceptable delays to multiply?
Defence Minister Jason Kenney responded by pointing out that his government had acquired new equipment, including C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft and Chinook helicopters, and launched “the single largest peacetime shipbuilding program in (Canadian) history.”
Kenney vowed to “ensure that the Royal Navy of Canada has the necessary equipment, including resupply ships,” and added, “if the NDP was in charge, there would be no new equipment for soldiers.”