This week the Liberal Government announced a new defence policy for Canada. While details are still being revealed, here is some of the information that has been released.
In terms of dollars it is proposed that annual operational military spending will be increased from $18.9 Billion in the current fiscal year and will rise to $32.7 Billion in the 2026-2027 budget. Part of this increased spending means that 3,500 more military personnel can be added to the total regular force size that will be increased to 71,500 troops overall.
In addition it is also proposed to make significant upgrades to Canada’s military hardware. The current CF-18 jet will be replaced with 88 yet to be named replacement jet fighters. It is also proposed to add remotely piloted attack aircraft, often referred to as Drones although the exact number has yet to be announced. It is also proposed to either upgrade or replace many existing aircraft such as the CC-150 Polaris, CC-138 Twin Otter and CP-140 Aurora. Air to air missiles, communications and radar systems are also proposed for modernisation.
Part of the equipment upgrades will also apply to the Canadian Navy as it is proposed to add 15 new surface combat ships and two joint supply ships. Five to six Arctic patrol ships have also been proposed including more modernization for the current four Victoria class submarines. Weapons such as torpedoes will also be part of the upgrade effort.
Vehicles, weapons, cyber capabilities and even space capabilities will also be included in the modernization and expansion efforts.
This is only a partial summary of a fairly extensive proposal. From my perspective there is little dispute that our Canadian Forces are in serious need for upgraded and modernized capabilities.
We have an outstanding group of Canadians who serve in our armed forces and they deserve the tools necessary to serve the interests of Canada both at home and abroad. I do have some concerns with this proposal. As a significant amount of purchases will be required having an efficient and effective procurement process will be vitally important. To date Federal Governments of all political stripes have long struggled with implementing an effective procurement process and this area will in my view remain a challenge.
My other major concern is the obvious. How does this ambitious plan get paid for? As is the case with most announcements from this Liberal Government the spending is typically back loaded with little spending now and the majority schedule to occur after the next election and is imposed on future Governments who may or may not support these initiatives. At the same time the Liberals have not announced where this significant amount of money to pay for it will come from. Given that the Liberals are currently running deficits significantly larger then promised and refuse to present a plan when they will return to a balanced budget it is unclear if this spending will result in even more debt or if taxes are going to be significantly increased. At a minimum Canadians deserve to know these details.
I welcome your comments and questions on the new Defence Plan or any matter before the House of Commons and can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free at 1-888-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.