Military spending and the federal budget
With the 2015-2016 Federal Budget slated for release on 21 April 2015, have a look at the CCPA’s Alternative Federal Budget 2015 (Alternative Federal Budget 2015: Delivering the Good, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 19 March 2015).
With Canadian participation in the war in Afghanistan ending in 2014, the ongoing fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and the military support provided to Ukraine, the cost to Canadians in relation to military spending needs to be understood and justified. Our focus is on the Defence chapter (authored by the Rideau Institute). Here are the CCPA recommendations on Defence:
The AFB will:
- Take immediate action on veterans and procurement oversight: Former veterans ombudsman Colonel (retired) Pat Stogran has called for a public inquiry as the only way to address the “culture of denial” that plagues Veterans Affairs Canada. The AFB would immediately convene consultations with veterans groups on the mandate for an independent public inquiry into the department’s failure to help Canada’s fallen in need. With respect to procurement, the AFB would revise the DPS to include a single point of accountability. In particular, this would address the accountability deficit in a process with multiple departments and stakeholders.
- Reduce defence spending over five years: The AFB will reduce the size of the Department of National Defence to its pre-September 11, 2001 level (adjusted for inflation). The 2000–01 DND budget was just under $11.9 billion, or about $16.1 billion in 2014 dollars, which is where it will be again by 2017–18 under AFB plans. As spending is projected to decline slightly in any event, the AFB will further reduce the Department of National Defence budget by $1.5 billion by 2017–18.
- Fully review Canada’s defence policy: These spending reductions are reasonable but will require hard choices about priorities, affordable force structures, and capabilities. To get there, a “root and branch” defence policy review is mandated to identify and prioritize key defence tasks and roles, and their funding envelopes. This would involve an established democratic practice almost entirely abandoned by the Harper government — the issuance of a Green Paper based on broad public and expert consultation, followed by a White Paper that establishes the government’s new position in light of this input. A central theme to be explored in the Green Paper would be whether it is time to shift Canada’s focus from NATO to UN-led peace and security initiatives. The consultation document would include a proposed Canadian policy framework of guiding principles and considerations for Canadian intervention in military operations abroad. A hard look at the appropriate balance between military and criminal justice responses to the challenges posed by terrorism would be another key theme. This review, together with the recommended spending reductions, would provide urgently needed public dollars for other priorities, boost efficiency in national defence, and lay the foundation for a strong Canadian military that is better capable of protecting Canadians and supporting UN peace operations.
*DPS: Defence Procurement Strategy
Find the CCPA Alternative Federal Budget chapter on Defence here: AFB Defence Chapter, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Find the full CCPA Alternative Federal Budget here: Alternative Federal Budget 2015: Delivering the Good, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Find the 2015 Federal Budget here: Federal Budget 2015, Government of Canada
Photo credit: 401(K) 2012, Flickr