Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s long-anticipated defense policy review, released Wednesday, promises massive military expenditures — but the navy, army and air force will have to wait for a decade to see if the promises are fulfilled.
Conservative defense critic and Manitoba Member of Parliament James Bezan was quick to accuse the government of creating a military wish list that they never intend to deliver. “The Liberals are punting the hard decisions down the road: more delays, more dithering, more disappointment,” Bezan said at a Wednesday news conference at Ottawa’s Parliament Hill.
Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan released the policy review at a the Cartier Drill Hall, right across the street from National Defense Headquarters. Entitled “Strong, Secure, Engaged,” the document is decidedly ambitious and offers nothing less than a 70 percent increase in military spending by 2027, driving the defense budget up from the current $18.9 billion to $32.7 billion in a decade.
Along with a pledge to replace fighter jets, navy ships and combat support vehicles, the policy outlines broad plans for a “health and wellness strategy,” more funding for military families, augmenting the size of the Canadian Armed Forces by an additional 3,500 personnel, growing military intelligence — and even a pledge to meet the Liberal government’s greenhouse gas emissions target.
Sajjan said all 88 of the CF-18 fighter jets will be replaced “through an open and transparent competition.”
Bezan says it is all a pipe dream. “We are deeply concerned that the government will not be able to deliver given the government’s dismal record on national defense thus far…the Liberals have lost all credibility when it comes to national defense. Conservatives believe that our men and women in uniform deserve the best equipment, training and best support available, not in 20 years, not after the next election, not when the Liberals get around to finding some money; our troops need it today.”
The policy review also commits the government to “increase then proportion of women in the military by one percentage point annually, to achieve 25 percent representation by 2026.”
Bezan says the military should not be forced to achieve quotas “because if you fall short of those targets, you leave yourself open to criticism.”
He told The Daily Caller that he is especially concerned that there was no hint in the last federal budget that the government intended to rebuild the military. “Nobody trusts the Liberals, nobody believes this minister after he’s misled Canadians on so many occasions,” said Bezan. “We already know that the finance minister, after he made $12 billion worth of cuts to the defense budget in the last two budgets, has said that our troops were ‘appropriately provisioned.’ So they think they have enough money to do the job and they’re going to continue to defer spending, punt these decisions down the road.”
Bezan also insisted that Canada still needs to commit to spending 2 percent of its GDP on national defense. “This plan doesn’t even come close,” he said.