Public eyes defence spending for cuts?

coinsA new poll by EKOS Research shows that the most popular option for reducing the federal deficit is cutting government spending. According to the poll, 46% of Canadians favour spending cuts, compared to 14% who favour raising taxes, 10% who want to continue to run deficits, and 30% who don’t know.

But while it’s not unusual to find people in favour of spending cuts in general, it’s not so easy to find specific programs that people want to cut. Pensions? Employment insurance? Health care? Environmental protection? Policing?

The EKOS poll didn’t ask Canadians to specify where cuts should be made. But EKOS pollster Frank Graves is quoted by the Globe and Mail (Jane Taber, “Budget should target ‘fat-cat Ottawa,’ poll suggests,” 12 February 2010) as saying that other research by his company suggests that the Department of National Defence (DND) would be the most popular target for future cutbacks: “My guess is that the major resources being devoted to Defence will be eyed by many Canadians as a possible target given the Afghan exit plan.”

At $21.2 billion, DND’s budget is currently $4.8 billion higher than it was when the Harper government took office.

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