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Stand On Guard

Hey have you ever been slapped square in the face? I’m not talking about a soft brush on the chin. I’m talking about full on, high speed, palm to cheek impact with a sound akin to a gun shot. Well I have. Though it lacks the sheer impact power of a good haymaker or the authoritative fury of a sharp backhand, the bitch slap is probably the most degrading form of physical abuse one can endure. The stinging of one’s face is nothing compared to the damage to one’s pride. Especially if one receives it in public. But you know what is worse than getting a slap in the face in public? Getting slapped in the face while you are trying to drag yourself out of a gutter someone else shoved you into. Does that sound embarrassing to you? You bet it does. If this sounds familiar, then you are probably associated with the Canadian Navy.

As of today the Canadian government has announced that half of its existing fleet of twelve Kingston class patrol vessels is to be mothballed. Ah the Kingston, first commissioned in 1996, the class stinks of bureaucratic compromise. Small with a poorly designed hull, an outdated primary weapon and the inability to carry helicopters, the Kingstons were originally designed to be minesweepers but were largely obsolete before they hit the waves. They are underpowered, understrength and manned exclusively by reservists but nonetheless they allow Canada to maintain security and a presence in our own waters as well as freeing up our excellent fleet of Halifax class frigates for deployment. Their continued operation also bring in critical revenue for Halifax, my hometown, and Victoria, the capital of my new home base British Columbia.

The Canadian Maritime Command (the clunky sounding name of the post unification Royal Canadian Navy) has had to put up with a tremendous amount of shit throughout its recent history. Broad spectrum funding cuts by successive governments and several attempts to rob them of the few traditions they managed to hold onto after unification are one thing but oh no they’ve also had to make do with the overpriced used deathtraps that are the Victoria Class submarine (of which only one of four is actually fit for service). Not to mention the ongoing disgrace that is the Maritime Helicopter Project. The Sea Kings should have been replaced in the 1990s, people have died because they weren’t, and the fact that their replacement, the Cyclone (an inferior selection to the original candidate the EH 101) has been repeatedly delayed is just shameful.

Wasn’t one of the Conservative Party’s big selling points during their numerous failed attempts to win a majority that they were strong on national defence? Way to go guys! You know what the best thing is? They announced this massive cutback without BOTHERING TO INFORM THE PREMIERS OF THE PROVINCES WHERE THESE SHIPS ARE STATIONED! Seriously! Nobody gave NS Premier Darrell Dexter any heads up. Maybe it’s because he’s a New Democrat. The Defence Minister is a Nova Scotian MP for fuck sakes! But then again Peter MacKay has had no problem fucking over his home province on Stevie’s say so. Case and point: trying to muscle other Nova Scotia MP Bill Casey because he cried foul over the bungled mess that was the Atlantic Accord. This cut back will kick both Halifax and Victoria’s economies square in the shins. Right after the end of the economic downturn. Plus Canada is still actively involved in military operations across the world including the extended Afghanistan mission and anti-piracy operations off the horn of Africa. It’s one thing to spit in the Forces’ eyes but at least do it when they are back on home soil. And I thought the Liberals were good at screwing the military.

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