During a news conference on April 13, 2017, Senator Dan Lang, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence said that despite commitments made by the Liberals during the 2015 elections, Canada’s military is at a breaking point. “Security is being underfunded and we are becoming more reliant on others for protection. We need $2 billion per year in new money just to maintain our current military operations”, Lang said.
According to a new report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence released in April 2017, defence spending under Trudeau has hit a new low of 0.88% of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). It is the lowest spending in Canada’s history, lower than the previous Conservative government, which peaked at 1.4% in 2009 and lower than the previous Liberal government, which spent 1.1%.
The report also ranks Canada 23rd out of 28 NATO members when it comes to defence spending, which the Senators say is unacceptable.
The committee is calling on the government to do more to coordinate cyber defences and protect critical infrastructure, and says that the government can no longer continue underfunding the military. One of the recommendations in the report is an increase of defence spending to 1.5% of GDP by 2023 and to 2% of GDP by 2028.
During the 2015 elections, the Liberals vowed to maintain then current national defence spending levels as well as planned increases.
“Under Stephen Harper, investments in the Canadian Armed Forces have been erratic, promised increases in funding have been scaled back, and more than $10 billion of approved funding was left unspent”, the Liberals wrote on their “Real Change” campaign website. “This mismanagement has left Canada’s Armed Forces underfunded and ill-equipped, and the courageous members of the Forces unsupported after years of dedicated service.”
“We will not let Canada’s Armed Forces be shortchanged, and we will not lapse military spending from year to year. We will also reinvest in building a leaner, more agile, better-equipped military, including adequate support systems for military personnel and their families.”
See also: Canada’s foreign aid under Trudeau’s government nears $11 billion – click HERE
Ilana Shneider is the co-editor of CIJnews and the founding executive director of Canada-Israel Friendship Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the mutually beneficial, long-standing diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between Canada and Israel. She can be reached at [email protected]