Rideau Institute President Steve Staples and Research Assistant Josh Libben argue for an end to the close relationship between the Department of National Defence and the lobbyists of the Conference of Defence Associations (“It’s time to end the Conference of Defence Associations’ military funding,” Esprit de Corps, February 2012):
…when a spokesperson from the Conference of Defence Associations (CDA) told a reporter that Canada should attack Iran and “be prepared for the unintended consequences, whatever they might be,” no one familiar with the group’s frequent media commentary raised an eyebrow.
But what readers of that media comment may not realize is that it is paid for by the Department of National Defence through a secret funding agreement with the group. Under a five-year $100,000-a-year deal between the CDA (and its charitable wing, the CDA Institute) and DND, the CDA must garner a minimum number of media quotes in order to receive its annual subsidy, among other requirements.
Given that the CDA’s bills are paid by DND dollars, is it any wonder that the CDA’s spokespeople fall into line with the military – and the government’s – viewpoint? Whether it’s “we’re winning the war in Afghanistan,” or “the F-35 is the best plane for Canada,” or even “let’s bomb Iran and live with the consequences,” the CDA, the military, and the Conservatives work together like a well-oiled machine.
The five-year agreement between the CDA and DND expires in March of this year.
Will the Harper government, so keen to project itself as a careful guardian of the public purse as it slashes government programs, continue to spend taxpayers’ money on what is in effect a non-governmental lobbying arm of the Department of National Defence?
We’ll soon find out.