Select Canadian soldiers have been sent to Blackwater U.S.A. in North Carolina for specialized training in bodyguard and shooting skills. Other soldiers have taken counterterrorism evasive-driving courses with the private military company now at the centre of an investigation into the killings of Iraqi civilians and mounting concerns about the aggressive tactics of its workers in the field.
Critics of Blackwater label the firm as a mercenary organization and question why a professional military such as the Canadian Forces can't do its own training in specialized areas.Thank goodness for Dawn Black.
Still, Dawn Black, the NDP's defence critic, questioned the need for Blackwater to be involved in training Canadian troops.But unfortunately, she doesn't have the Public Safety job. That belongs to Stockwell Day, who doesn't have a clue.
"My understanding is we have some of the best-trained forces in the world, and great trainers, so why do we need our armed forces personnel to be trained by a mercenary organization?"
Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day, when asked whether the training in Blackwater is appropriate, defended the Forces.
"Our forces are dedicated individuals. Their training covers a lot of different areas and the Minister of Defence certainly is advised and apprised of the situations that they have to deal with and the situations they face," said Day.
"We're very proud of the work they do."That's nice, Stockwell, but that wasn't the question you were asked.
Meanwhile, this is where Canadian soldiers and Candian taxpayer money is going.
The company, based near the Great Dismal Swamp in North Carolina, was co-founded by Erik Prince, a billionaire right-wing fundamentalist. At its HQ, Blackwater has trained more than 20,000 mercenaries to operate as freelancers in wars around the world. Prince is a big bankroller of the Republican Party - giving a total of around $275,550 - and was a young intern in the White House of George Bush Sr. Under George Bush Jr, Blackwater received lucrative no-bid contracts for work in Iraq, Afghanistan and New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. His firm has pulled down contracts worth at least $320 million in Iraq alone.Right-wing billionaire fundamentalists. Oh, wonderful. Now that's the kind of values we want to support and instill in the Canadian forces.
Scahill says the firm is "the front line in what the Bush administration views as the necessary revolution in military affairs" - privatisation of as many roles as possible. Senator John Warner, former head of the Senate armed services committee, once called Blackwater the "silent partner in the global war on terror"
Scahill went on to call Prince a "neo-crusader, a Christian supremacist, who has been given hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts this is a man who espouses Christian supremacy, and he has been allowed to create a private army to defend Christendom around the world.
Blackwater has exploited the Bush presidency's desire to out-source government functions. Dan Guttman, a fellow at Johns Hopkins University and a consultant on private security firms for the Centre for Public Integrity, says firms like Blackwater are now "part and parcel of Pentagon operations ... performing what citizens consider the stuff of government: planning, policy writing, budgeting, intelligence gathering, nation building". How taxpayers' money is being spent, however, seems to have been overlooked.He's talking about the American taxpayers, but I think Canadians have a right to know that their money is going to a right-wing fundamentalist group with a lot of guns and a desire to rule the world.