Opinion: Were the Liberals ever serious about their big defence plan? They cut defence spending in 2018 and are ignoring it in 2019
Last week’s federal budget offered relatively modest spending with targeted funding after years of spending from a government that seemed to believe the deficit will solve itself. Unfortunately, the Canadian Armed Forces again escaped the finance minister’s gaze and for the second consecutive year, national defence is conspicuous by its absence from the budget.
You might recall the fanfare when Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan released the Liberals’ defence policy review in 2017: “Strong, Secure, Engaged.” It was already more than six months overdue and there was a feeling among defence analysts and most journalists that the Liberals had to deliver a document that suggested serious resolve.
Sajjan promised a whopping 70-per-cent increase in defence spending, pledging to drive funding up to $32.7 billion from $18.9 billion. Naval ships, combat-support vehicles and 88 fighter jets would be replaced through “an open and transparent competition.”
But there was one large disclaimer. All of this would happen over the next decade, assuming the realities of 2017 would remain constant during that period. How well would any government have done predicting the military needs of 1942 based on the geopolitics of 1932?
In any case, we’ve yet to see any indication that the Liberals were serious about the plan. They cut defence spending in 2018 and have ignored it in 2019. (end of excerpt)
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