Fix the policy, then spend
June 11, 2008
Ottawa — Senator Colin Kenny is right in that what most ails the Canadian Forces is a matter of misplaced, or absent, policy direction. But his solution of throwing even more billions of dollars at the problem would only make matters worse (Our Military Badly Needs Repair – June 10). The last white paper on national defence was written in 1994, and Paul Martin’s International Policy Statement lasted as long as his minority government. Under Stephen Harper, special interests have lobbied for their own interests rather than the Forces as a whole.
For instance, infighting over whether to buy a small fleet of long-range transport aircraft or a large fleet of medium-range aircraft ended with the Conservatives buying both at a total cost of $5-billion. A debate over wheeled or tracked tanks ended with an $800-million order for new Canadian-built Stryker vehicles being cancelled in favour of buying 100 Cold War-era Leopard tanks from the Netherlands.
Mr. Kenny’s notion that pumping billions more tax dollars into National Defence will solve the policy crisis is wishful thinking. Let’s get Canada’s defence policy straightened out first to ensure that the $19-billion we spend on the military every year is used to meet the real needs of our armed forces.