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From the Country with the Longest Coastline in the World...

From November 2000 to March of this year, I worked for a company based in Vancouver, British Columbia. For the first ten months, I lived in Seattle and commuted back and forth each week, but then spent the last five months living in Vancouver full time. My then-girlfriend was Canadian, and between working for a Canadian company, spending most or all of my time in Canada, and dating a native, I was fairly immersed in Canadian culture. I can name all the provinces and territories, know what the Canadian Shield is, and have an ongoing love of Canadian snack foods.

With time, though, I find I'm not keeping up with news from Canada as I once did. It's a wonderful country, I like the people, and Vancouver is surely one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but I have enough else on my plate as it is. I try to check in every so often on Vancouver's bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics (which, if there is any justice in the world, they should win), but other than that, it's once every week or two that I make the effort to check out Canadian news sites. When I did so recently, I found this story from the Ottawa Citizen:

A warning that the cash-strapped Canadian Coast Guard could get caught with its pants down is coming closer to the literal truth following an internal directive issued last month to personnel on the West Coast.

Members have been bluntly told that any requests for new uniforms to replace worn or torn official clothing will be rejected pending an internal review of the Pacific region's financial status for the current fiscal year, which ends on March 31.

"Your patience, understanding and co-operation to this matter would be greatly appreciated," wrote Greg Locke, supervisor of logistics, in an e-mail directive issued on Oct. 28.

Canadian Alliance MP John Cummins, who was leaked the e-mail, said the inability to adequately supply the coast guard with uniforms makes a mockery of the position taken recently by Fisheries Minister Robert Thibault...

George Horel, the coast guard's director of operations for the Pacific region, said management is taking steps to deal with a financial squeeze.

"Our budget is tight."

And this from the country with the longest coastline in the world.

There's an old saying, "It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber." I don't know that Canadian schools get all the money they need, but it seems like -- at least in the case of their Coast Guard -- they may need to start asking people to bring in cookies...

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