You'd think a country that has as many kilometres of coastline as Canada (243,792 km, the most in the world) could manage the crafts that traverse its waters - above and below - a little better. And I'm not even going to get into the craft that fly above our waters because, sheesh, that's a whole different column about aging Sea Kings and expensive fighter jets.
Let's concentrate on boats. And by boats I mean ferries. And submarines. I think you know where I'm going with this. You see we, as a people, just don't make good sense when it comes to boats.
We all remember the fast ferries debacle, begun so proudly in British Columbia in the late 90's and killed in 2003 after numerous problems, with the ferries being sold for a fraction of their huge cost
In any event, the fast ferries were sold and the old ferries were back on the job, carting goods and people across the water to Vancouver Island. At an enormous price tag per crossing I might add. Where else could you have a free ferry over a scenic route on Kootenay Lake - that has an alternate route (!) - and a paid ferry to get to Vancouver Island, where there is no alternate route.
But I'll give this to British Columbia, we do know when to pull the plug when something doesn't work, although that particular turn of phrase may not be best for a boating-related article.
However, another program was also begun in the late 90's involving watercraft, and this one, the government of Canada, in its infinite wisdom, has not yet given up on. I speak of course of our fleet of submarines, leased from Britain in 1999 for $800 million. At the time it was considered a real steal. Interesting word, steal.
HMCS Windsor, Chicoutimi, Corner Brook and Victoria have spent more time in dry dock in the past 13 years than they have in the water. Currently HMCS Windsor is back in the water after a lengthy dry dock. The bill for that ran to $45 million in one year. Neither HMCS Corner Brook nor HMCS Chicoutimi is ready for service yet. HMCS Victoria test fired torpedoes off the west coast last month. Hope they didn't hit a ferry.
From mapleleafweb.com: Indeed, the estimated yearly costs of operating the four submarines has risen to $121 million from about $97 million. Further, due to their collective structural problems, the overall cost of acquiring the submarines has risen to $897 million - from the original $800 million price tag.
I suspect the Brits are still having a good chuckle about that sub deal.
"I say Nigel, did you hear that those bloody Canucks are still trying to get the Victoria Class submarines into the water?"
"I did hear that, Charles. You know what they say, only in Canada."
So on we go, hoping that someday a real first will occur - all four subs will be in the water and operating at the same time. Defence Minister Peter MacKay has said it would be another couple of years before all four submarines are fully operational.
Here's a suggestion - the West Edmonton Mall just got rid of their submarine fleet. Maybe they could lease it to Canada as an interim fleet until the Victoria Class gets its act together.