The Trudeau government can't afford to buy ultra-modern warships and advanced warplanes at the same time, given the limits of federal finances, a new research paper argues.
The study, written for the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy, says that — contrary to the assurances offered in the government's defence policy — Ottawa will soon be forced into a series of tough, far-reaching choices about the structure and capabilities of the Canadian military.
Using the government's own figures, researcher Alex McColl concluded that the Liberals either will have to pour more money into their defence budget in the mid-2020s or scale back their ambitions by buying a less expensive fighter jet.
The reason, according to McColl, is that the bills for both new frigates and new fighters will come due at the same time.
"Not only will the CF-18 replacement program have to fight for funding against the general austerity and easy riding nature of Canadians, but it will also be running concurrently with the largest military procurement in Canadian history: the National Shipbuilding Strategy," he wrote.
During the 2015 election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged Canada would not buy the F-35 stealth jet — that it would go with something cheaper and pour the savings into rebuilding the navy.
The way the defence policy figures roll out, McColl wrote, suggests the government is on track to do just that. (end of excerpt)
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