The Treasury Board says that the cost of Canada's military mission in Afghanistan for the next two years will be $1.35 billion higher than projected a year ago by the Defence Department. [emphasis mine]
Those revised estimates of the incremental costs of the Canadian Forces mission in Afghanistan are posted on the Treasury Board website.
The Defence Department, citing national security provisions, censored an Access to Information request by the federal NDP that asked for those figures three weeks ago.
The Treasury Board says the military mission will cost $822 million in the fiscal year 2009-10 and $943 million in 2010-11. It also estimates that the mission will cost $178 million in fiscal 2011-12, when Canadian troops are expected to pull out of combat roles in Afghanistan. It's the first time figures for that year have been made available.
"The left hand and the right hand seem to have different strategies here. It's time they came clean and let the public know what was going on," said NDP defence critic Jack Harris.
"It's pretty strange. You've got secret numbers for national security reasons, then they put them on their website."
These latest estimates by Treasury Board are far larger than the Defence Department predicted in April 2008 when it released information to the NDP that showed a $261-million price tag for 2009-10 and $150 million for 2010-11.
When the NDP asked for those figures again this year, they were rebuffed under Section 15 of the Access to Information Act which allows an exemption in "the defence of Canada or any state allied" in the withholding information.
Harris said it is also curious that the Treasury Board figures show for the first time an estimate for the fiscal year 2011-12 when the combat mission is due to end.
He said that suggests the military has a plan for operations in Afghanistan after the planned withdrawal date.
"They've got those plans in place. Let's put on the table what they're spending that for and have a real debate and discussion (about) what we're going to be doing there after the troops come back," he said.
"The whole point of asking for these numbers is to get the facts out there so we can have a discussion and debate about that. They apparently didn't want that."
Remember "accountability" and "transparency", the Conservative buzzwords that helped elect them in 2005? Hell, remember 2005? That "sponsorship scandal" that ignorant voters thought was sooo important...
Hat tip to Buckdog.
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