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

VIDEO: Child airlifted to hospital after crash in rural Langley

Jaws of life were used to cut off the roof of a car and free its occupants from a two-car accident.

Documentary filmed in Chilliwack nominated in the ‘Wildlife Oscars’

Toad People is the only Canadian film to be nominated in this year’s Panda Wilderness Awards

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Air quality advisory continues in the Lower Mainland

Smoke from Interior fires brings fine particulate

VIDEO: BC Lions Club hosts inaugural Floats Festival

First festival attracts more than 250 floaters

B.C. team stays alive in Little League World Series after another nail-biter

Surrey-based squad scored a 6-4 win over Mexico reps in Williamsport on Monday

Kids, seniors at risk as smoke from distant fires hangs over parts of B.C.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control says children’s lungs don’t fully develop until about age 10

B.C. mother charged in 7-year-old daughter’s death appears in court

The 36-year-old mother, of Langley’s Aaliyah Rosa, has been charged with second-degree murder

VIDEO: Teen soccer phenomenon Alphonso Davies to visit B.C. kids camp

The 17-year-old Vancouver Whitecap player is one of the youngest players in MLS history

Local libraries offer interactive digital novel

Inanimate Alice uses virtual reality systems

New plan to lift more than two million people past the poverty line

Anti-poverty strategy will aim for 50 per cent cut in low-income rates: source

Liberals scrap lottery system for reuniting immigrants with their parents

Lottery for parent sponsorship to be replaced, more applications to be accepted

More bus trips coming to Metro Vancouver this fall

TransLink touts improvements when fall service changes take effect Sept. 34

Most Read