No Pork Like It: Canadian Forces See Funding Boom
by C. L. Cook
It's a good time to be in Canada's military. Despite the nation's promise to wind down its decade-long military role in Afghanistan, Canadian Forces recruiters are hard at work, hoping to draw a new generation of youngsters in.
And, it seems no expense is to be spared.
In a time of government cut-backs, and promises of more of the same to follow, Lt. David Utzinger, commander of the Canadian Forces Recruiting Detachment in my town outlined last week progress being made on the nearly one million dollar renovation of his Fort Street recruiting centre.
News Group reporter, Erin McCracken informs the reno, budgeted at $928,000, is expected to be ready for business in time for Halloween, noting the leased space will be expanded more than 35% to approximately 7,000 square feet.
According to McCracken, the lavish upgrade in Victoria is just one of many across the country being "modernized to mirror an updated and enhanced Canadian Forces recruiting website."
Lt. Utzinger says; "It's a new look and feel for Canadian Forces recruiting."
Though neither the total number of recruitment centres is revealed, nor the budgets of each "enhancement" given, McCracken says "about half" of the centres are yet to be renovated.
The newly deployed commander of the Victoria detachment explains the new look, saying; "You can’t put a price on that, and that’s one of the reasons for the renovation – having that good first example as an employer of choice."
Lt. Utzinger and his 21 member team provide first contact for applicants across the city and from all over the island. So far this year, 375 prospects have shown up; a drop in interest, according to Utzinger, that makes it an apt opportunity for renos.
He says; "Right now it is a good time for us (to do the renovation project) because there was a lull in recruiting." Adding; "It also helps with our ability to process people in a more efficient manner."
A couple of points not covered in McCracken's piece, (or at least not printed): First is the near million dollars of public money being spent for renos. on a rental property in downtown Victoria. Real estate prices are pretty high in this city, but a million dollars can still get you a lot more than a store front along antique row; secondly, in the context of tough talking fiscal conservatives in Ottawa, who never seem to tire of telling Canadians the economy is in dire shape, requiring big cuts to government services, how do they justify such extravagance?
A look at the enhanced Canadian Forces recruiting website offers little information on either question, and a search through the labyrinthine National Defence website fails to mention the Victoria office at all, let alone offering answers to questions like:
"Why, in time of a scheduled scale down of operations, where interest in military service is waning, and government spending is constrained, is the New Government of Canada doling out more money for this?"