David Pugliese, one of only a tiny handful of Canadian journalists who writes knowledgeably about defence issues says, in a recent item in the Ottawa Citizen, that “the new CDS [Chief of the Defence Staff ~ the officer who replace retiring General Jon Vance] is expected to face the challenge of dealing with significant budget cuts because of the financial strain on federal coffers created by the novel coronavirus pandemic … [already] … Spending on various emergency relief programs has resulted in Canada’s deficit increasing to $343 billion this year, according to the federal government’s economic snapshot released in early July …[and Prime Minister] … Trudeau has acknowledged that the full economic impact of the pandemic is unknown. A second COVID-19 wave could further worsen the economic situation.“
I explained, recently, why I think that is a poor idea. Now, retired Lieutenant General Michael Day says, on social media, that it’s possible but he notes that:
- The cuts, even HUGE cuts would be minuscule compared to the deficit because Canada’s defence budget it not a really large part of federal spending, unlike, say, the USA’s defence budget or even Australia’s;
- Major projects where big dollars are spent are already underway ~ contracts are signed, money is being spent, jobs are at stake, too;
- Defence spending injects considerable stimulus into the Canadian economy; and
- The last time the Government of Canada did this the impact was deleterious, lasted for decades and is, right now, costing billions to put right.
In fact a wise government might even increase defence spending because it might be a chance to aim some spending at specific communities. Our northern radar chain, for example, needs to be replaced ~ it is a vital part of our share of the continental defence burden; it’s not “discretionary.” But it is the sort if project which could be used as a springboard for a generations long effort aimed at improving First Nations communities by giving them responsibility for the construction and maintenance of what I assume will be large terrestrial radar sites. Ditto for e.g. shipbuilding and, perhaps, for armed helicopters for the Canadian Forces:
These, and other defence projects can have a favourable impact on the recovery if Canadian politicians are willing to act boldly and decisively and in the national interest. That means Canada needs a new government … one which does not include Justin Trudeau, Chrystia Freeland and Harjit Sajjan.