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Harper government conceals future cost of war in Afghanistan

The Canwest News Service reports that, “In a significant policy shift, the Canadian government now believes that telling the country’s taxpayers the future cost of the war in Afghanistan would be a threat to national security…”

“When the NDP asked for the (military costs of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan) last year, the military made them public. …But this year, military censors cited Section 15 of the (Access to Information) act in blocking out the figure.”

Section 15 of the act allows the withholding of any “information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to be injurious to the conduct of international affairs, the defence of Canada or any state allied or associated with Canada or the detection, prevention or suppression of subversive or hostile activities.”

“The NDP has filed a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s office to force the release of the figures for the recently started fiscal year of 2009-10, as well as for 2010-11 and 2011-12.”

“Last year’s figures showed the cost ballooning to $1.007 billion for 2007-08 and projected they would reach $1.009 billion by 2008-09. But this year’s figures show that the cost for 2008-09 was higher than projected, at $1.190 billion.”

“(In October 2008), Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page released a detailed report that suggested the full cost of the mission could reach $18.1 billion by 2011. Page’s study took into account the long-term costs of caring for physically and mentally ill soldiers.”

To date 120 Canadian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2002, including most recently Corporal Martin Dube on June 14. The military mission is to continue for another 30 months to December 2011.

The full article can be read at http://www.canada.com/news/Tories+withhold+future+costs+citing+national+security+concerns/1718941/story.html.