Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Return to roots

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Canada's Defence Department is coming under attack because the country's 53,000 cadets are being told to buy their own gym gear, and recycle and swap used uniforms. They might also have to buy their own parkas, too.

The clothing budget for Canada's 53,000 navy, air force and army cadets was $13 million, but it was recently cut by $2 million.

First, the recycling of uniforms used to be standard practice, and there never was military-issue athletic gear for the youngsters in the distant past. There's nothing wrong with a policy that discards faded outfits, but keeps using uniforms that are still presentable.

The real problem with the country's cadet program, however, is that it's become bloated with paid managers and bureaucrats.

A National Defence report shows $148 million went to pay and benefits for administrators. That's the bulk of the cadet corps' $239-million budget.

The number of paid staff has also been rising over the years, even though there are fewer cadets to manage. It's time to bring some order and common sense to the ranks. The cadets need to return to their roots as a volunteer-driven organization, much like the Scouts and other youth organizations.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 28, 2013 A16

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