The 2007 budget and military spending

Not many surprises in the budget today for military spending. While Finance Minister Jim Flaherty did not announce any new spending increases, the budget did include a shifting of $175 million from 2009-10 to be spent much sooner this year (2007-08).

Here is what the today’s budget said about defence:

Implementing the Canada First Defence Plan

Over the past year, the Department of National Defence has made significant progress towards the implementation of the Canada First defence plan to strengthen Canada’s independent capacity to defend our national sovereignty and security. The transformation and expansion of the Canadian Forces are underway. The procurement of major equipment has progressed with the approval and announcement of the acquisition of joint support ships, a medium-sized logistics truck fleet, medium- to heavy-lift helicopters, as well as enhanced strategic and tactical airlift capability.

Budget 2007 accelerates the implementation of the $5.3-billion, five-year Canada First defence plan. Through this plan, the Canadian Forces will receive $3.1 billion over the next three years.

Table 6.1
Canada First Defence Plan (Budgetary Basis)1


2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 Total

(millions of dollars)

Budget 2006 725 1,000 1,400 3,125
Budget 2007 175 0 -175 0

Canada First defence plan implementation 900 1,000 1,225 3,125

My view: the fact is, the Conservatives didn’t need to add any more money to the defence budget, because previous spending increases announced in 2005 and 2006 over a multi-year period already provide the military with more money than it knows how to spend. The last two years’ budgets have marked the complete victory of the defence lobby in Ottawa, and an utter abdication of the government to the demands of the military, defence contractors, and especially the White House.

The respected Alternative Federal Budget, published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, had this to say about military spending:

Canadian military spending is poised to rise dramatically in the coming three years. The Liberal government’s 2005 Budget committed an additional $12.8 billion over five years. The Conservative government’s 2006 Budget stayed the course and topped-up the 2005 Budget with an additional $5.3 billion over five years. Military spending for 2006–07 is estimated at $16.2 billion (though this estimate has already been increased once because of the rising cost of the Afghanistan mission, specifically the government’s decision to deploy Leopard tanks to Kandahar), surpassing for the first time spending (inflation-adjusted) at the end of the Cold War.The military spending increases approved by Parliament in 2005 and 2006 will send Canada’s military spending skyrocketing to $21.5 billion in 2010–11, according to Defence Minster Gordon O’Connor — even though today’s military spending is already sixth highest within the 26-member NATO alliance and 15th highest in the world.

Today, the objective of the defence lobby has changed from winning big spending increases, to ensuring that the money is spent as quickly as possible on as many big ticket arms and equipment programs as possible. That’s why the Conservatives announced nearly $20 billion in arms purchases last year, and are driving through non-competitive purchases to get contracts signed quickly.

Warplanes, helicopters, warships, trucks – spend, spend, spend.

Steve

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