Ottawa Citizen

Delayed trucks now due in 2017

- DAVID PUGLIESE

Canada’s army expects to receive new trucks almost a decade after they were promised by the Conservati­ve government.

But there are questions about whether there is enough money to maintain the new vehicles when they do arrive.

The government originally announced the truck purchase in 2006, saying they would be delivered two years later. But the trucks will now be delivered starting in 2017, Tanya LeBlanc, a spokeswoma­n with the Department of National Defence, confirmed to the Citizen.

She noted the contract would be awarded to the winning bidder in the summer. Defence industry officials expect that to occur sometime in June. The $725-million project will see the purchase of 1,500 trucks.

But a recently released audit by DND’s Chief of Review Services has raised questions about how the department crunched the numbers on the funding set aside for longterm support of the new trucks. It recommende­d the department revise its estimates and “take other measures to manage constraint­s of limited sustainmen­t funds.”

The truck project has also been plagued by delays and a bungled procuremen­t process since being announced by then-defence minister Gordon O’Connor.

In 2012, Treasury Board officials had to stop the purchase after the original budget increased without the government’s approval. The government restarted the truck project with a meeting of companies in Ottawa in mid-January 2013.

In the meantime, the Canadian army has been using its older vehicles as well as commercial trucks, modified for military use, that were delivered several years ago by Navistar, a U.S. firm.

That $274-million truck contract, however, also proved to be controvers­ial when it was announced by then-defence minister Peter MacKay.

Even as the government was awarding the contract to Navistar to build the trucks in Texas, the company was laying off employees at its Chatham, Ont., truck plant. Eventually 800 were laid off. Navistar closed the plant in 2011.

But MacKay defended the awarding of the contract to the U.S. firm, saying Canadian work would be done on the military vehicles. He said Canadian mechanics would be involved in maintainin­g the trucks, and that gas for the vehicles would also be bought in Canada.

In addition, the tires would come from a plant in Nova Scotia, he said.

 ??  ?? The Canadian Army has been using its older vehicles as well as commercial trucks, modified for military use.
The Canadian Army has been using its older vehicles as well as commercial trucks, modified for military use.

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