require_once( $_SERVER["DOCUMENT_ROOT"] . "/master.config.php"); require_once ("config/config.php"); require("includes/story_header.php"); ?>
|"A bit drafty out here." Canadian soldier on parade in this 2002 file photo.|
A $23 million announcement by Defence Minister David "What a" Pratt yesterday will see for the allocation of pants to Canadian troops working to rebuild Afghanistan and on other missions overseas.
"Now, our brave soldiers will have pants. No longer will their legs be subjected to sand and such," said Pratt at an announcement in Ottawa. "They will now have somewhere to put their wallets.
"This is a great day for the Canadian Forces."
The new funding for troop pants is long overdue, according to military analysts and retired Canadian soldiers.
"I might not have left the forces if there had been pants for me to wear," said retired Sergeant Don Abercrombie, from Carmen, Manitoba. "I have very feminine legs, which made me the butt of many jokes from my subordinates. It forced me into early retirement."
Corporal Jamie McCluskin, presently serving with the 8th Battalion, 34th Regiment in Kabul, Afghanistan, was on hand for the announcement via videophone. He gave it his support.
"My legs were getting kinda sunburned, so yeah, I guess it's good news that we'll finally have some pants to wear," said Corporal McCluskin, a native of Restigouche, New Brunswick.
"It's hard to command respect from the locals when you're not wearing any pants and you're armed with nothing but a box of elastics."
Canadian Forces troops have been pantsless since substantive cuts made to the Defence budget in 1995. While the decision to cut away pants funding for the military was a controversial one, it was seen as necessary due to the economic climate at the time.
"Everyone had to do a little belt-tightening during those dark days," said Colonel Harry Verpson, (Retired). "Actually, maybe that's a poor choice of words."
Conservative Defence Critic John Zazazu was not impressed with the Liberal announcement.
"This this is just electioneering. They're just trying to get elected. Imagine that."
Minister Pratt insisted that the timing of the defence pants announcement was purely coincidental. "This is not an election ploy. This money for pants had been earmarked for months now. It was announced in the budget and everything. It wasn't during the televised part, but it was in there. Vote Liberal."
Campaigning in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Prime Minister Martin echoed his Defence Minister. "Pants for our troops are very, very important. In fact, I would have to say that ensuring Canadian Forces have pants is my first priority.
"Or if not my first, it's definitely in my top 50. I should really make a list."
Canadian soldiers not deployed on international missions, however, are still without pants, at least for the time being.
"If I could afford it, I would buy a pair of jeans, but you know, gotta feed my son. And my wife's pregnant again," said Private Billy Repentigny, based at CFB Petawawa north of Ottawa, south of Matawa, east of Wawa, who earns approximately $16,000 dollars per year.
"Sure, our colonels and generals get pants to wear around town, and here
I am in my jockey shorts. Do you know how embarrassing it is to get on the bus
in your underwear?"