Steven Staples Responds to New “Buy Canada” Military Plan

Yesterday, the Globe and Mail reported that the Harper Conservatives are planning to use Canadian defence policies to increase the capacity of the domestic defence industry (Steven Chase, “Tories plan ‘buy Canada’ military budget,” Globe and Mail, 24 September 2012):

The Harper government is embarking on an ambitious effort to develop a Canada-first military purchasing strategy – one that aims to funnel as many procurement dollars as possible to domestic firms with the potential to be leaders in their field.

It is the latest step in the Conservatives’ plans to craft a defence industrial policy for Canada – an effort to harness the power of the military-security budget in the service of long-term jobs and economic growth.

In response to this move, the Rideau Institute’s Steven Staples penned the following letter to the Globe’s editors, which was published today.

‘Dubious plan’

By all means, use tax dollars to support Canadian jobs. But a Canadian “defence industrial policy” sounds like a dubious plan that will just create a made-in-Canada arms industry (Tories Plan ‘Buy Canada’ Military Budget – Sept. 24).

Encouraging companies to build for the defence market when military spending is declining here and internationally makes no economic sense. The future is in global products such as Bombardier’s new passenger planes, not fighter planes.

Experience has shown that arms industries become dependent on public funds. Let’s leave the military-industrial complex to the Americans, and create a world-class manufacturing sector Canadians can be proud of.

Steven Staples, Rideau Institute, Ottawa

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