POLITICS
10/28/2011 06:12 EDT | Updated 12/28/2011 05:12 EST

Libya Mission Cost $50M, MacKay Says

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Canada's mission in Libya has cost less than expected, Defence Minister Peter MacKay says, coming in around $50 million as of a couple of weeks ago.

That number counts costs up to Oct. 13, two weeks before the expected end date, MacKay told Evan Solomon, in an interview to be aired on CBC Radio's The House Saturday.

The initial projections last June, based in part on the cost of the first three months of the mission, were about $60 million.

"As of Oct. 13, the figures that I've received have us well below that, somewhere under $50 million," MacKay said. "And that's the all-up costs of the equipment that we have in the theatre, the transportation to get there, those that have been carrying out this critical mission."

MacKay says the mission was successful by anyone's standards, with Canada joining a UN-sanctioned NATO mission to save civilian lives.

The mission ends Oct. 31, although Canada has pledged to help Libya as it rebuilds after 42 years under deposed leader Moammar Gadhafi, who was shot and killed last week.

Austerity to hit National Defence too

A report in the Ottawa Citizen this week said Chief of Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk and Robert Fonberg, deputy minister of the Department of National Defence, instructed staff to look at options for selling off property and shutting down facilities.

But MacKay said the only people talking about closing bases are opposition MPs.

"We own vast amounts of property and infrastructure across the country. And so as part of our austerity measures, as you would expect, we're looking at what is needed in the future. We're looking at what investments have to be made in the future, and what could and might be surplus."

Every government department and agency has had to submit reports on how they would cut five and 10 per cent from their budgets, including defence. MacKay said every business and household expects the government to make wise decisions about cuts.

"We're not at the point where we're going to announce those decisions until we've looked at the whole package of information placed before us," he said.

"It's fair to say that we're doing what every department is doing, and that is to look at efficiencies."