I was going to save this piece for next week, but in light of the story breaking on the CTV about General Rick Hillier being replaced, I felt it was necessary to address something right away.
In reading the comments on the above news article, I am shocked at how many Canadians actually think it was Rick Hillier that rebuilt the military and restored the faith and groundswell of support for our troops.
A General within the military does not have the power to acquire Billions of dollars of funding from the Finance Ministry to rebuild the military. That feat was accomplished by the Honourable Gordon O’Connor.
A General within the military is not the one that stick handles billions of dollars of expenditures through committees and the House of Commons in a minority government to ensure the purchases of equipment get made. That feat was accomplished by the Honourable Gordon O’Connor.
A General within the military cannot swing deals with Boeing to get Canada’s C-17 heavy lift moved up to the front of the queue so that we can get our aircraft years ahead of schedule. That feat was accomplished by the Honourable Gordon O’Connor.
The list goes on and on.
The groundswell of support for our troops was not headed up by Hillier either. A big part of this was started by Lisa Miller and Karen Boire, the two young ladies who started the “Wear Red Fridays” drive. This single handedly has to be the one thing that has started to spread across the nation as a show of support for the troops and their families. I still wear red every Friday, even if it is just a small red ribbon pinned to my lapel with a Canada flag pin.
I am not saying Rick Hillier should or should not be removed from his post. My opinion on that is neither here nor there. But what I am saying is that if praise is to be given for the restored quality of our military, and renewed faith that our forces are one of the best outfitted in the world, that praise should be given to the previous Minister of National Defence, Gordon O’Connor.
I for one am extremely proud of Gordon O’Connor and all he has done to ensure our military is well outfitted. Below is a list of accomplishments Minister O’Connor accomplished while he managed the Defence portfolio.
-Increased Defence budget by $5.3 billion over 5 years
A 3-OCEAN NAVY, A ROBUST ARMY, AND A REVITALIZED AIR FORCE
·Announced up to 8 Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships ($7.4B)
·100 modern main battle tanks (Leopard 2) ($650M)
·Purchased 4 C-17 strategic airlift aircraft ($3.4B)
·Announced the intention to acquire 17 tactical airlift aircraft (C-130J) ($4.9B)
·Announced the intention to acquire 16 medium-heavy lift helicopters (Chinooks) ($4.7B)
·Announced the intention to acquire 2,300 medium-weight trucks ($1.2B)
·Announced the intention to acquire 3 Joint Support ships (JSS) (2.9B)
·25 New Nyala Armoured Patrol Vehicles ($31M)
·82 Armoured Heavy Support Vehicle Systems (AHSVS) ($87M)
·5 Buffalo, 5 Cougar, and 6 Husky mine-protected vehicles ($29.6M)
·6 M777 Howitzers
·Announced the modernization of 12 Halifax-Class Frigates ($3.1B)
·Announced the establishment of an Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagotville
·Announced the re-opening of the College Militaire Royal (CMR) St-Jean
·Extension of Afghan mission until 2009
·Extension of NORAD Agreement, incl. maritime surveillance
·Deployment of HMCS Ottawa to the Gulf under Operation ALTAIR
·An infantry to protect the PRT
·A Leopard tank squadron to Kandahar
·Military engineers to PRT’s
·Opening of the Sergeant David L. Pitcher NORAD facility at North Bay
CF Force Expansion:
·New Recruit Advertising Campaign Launched
·In 2006 the Total Paid Strength of the CF grew by over 2,000
·In October 2006, the recruiting process was streamlined
Quality of Life/Other:
·Introduction of a modernized pension plan for CF reservists
·New operational allowance for CF members who are medically repatriated
·Opening of the Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) facility at Gagetown
·$19 million provided to 41 Military Family Resource Centers
·Clifton Wenzel receives compensation