When John Manley spoke to the media on October 4, 2001 as foreign minister, he was blunt: "You can't just sit at the G8 table and then, when the bill comes, go to the washroom. If you want to play a role in the world ... there's a cost to doing that." Now the Finance Minister, Manley and his new Defence colleague, John McCallum, must pay the bill to restore the Canadian Forces.
The bill will be high. Paul Martin's December, 2001, budget failed to provide real funding increases for the Canadian Forces. These increases cannot be delayed any longer, and the funding priorities must be indicated clearly in the present defence review. It might be necessary to reduce the overall budget surplus to fund the Canadian Forces properly, but this is ultimately a small price to pay.
The Canadian Forces need more money if they are to become a force capable of protecting Canadian sovereignty by carrying out Canada's share of continental defence, and if they are to be capable of sending troops abroad for coalition operations and UN peace support operations. The Department of National Defence base budget should be increased by $1-billion in the next budget and by a further $1-billion in each of the next four years (in other words, from $12-billion now, to $13-billion in 2003, to $14-billion in 2004, etc.).
This increase should be sufficient to cover the cost of increasing the regular forces over five years to 80,000 to 85,000 from the present strength of 60,000. It should also be sufficient to pay for increased training, operations, and maintenance. At least half of the increased personnel strength should be devoted to the army so it can bring its units up to strength and reduce the strain caused to its personnel by too-frequent overseas deployments. The navy needs an additional 5,000 to 8,000 men and women so it can once again become capable of putting all its ships to sea without scrambling to man them. The air force, too, is short-staffed. At the same time the reserve forces need to be doubled in strength to some 45,000 all ranks, with the bulk of the increase going to the army reserve which has a critical role to play in augmenting regular units for overseas deployments and, in the light of 9/11, for homeland defence. Reservists -- part-time service personnel -- are much cheaper than regulars and they also directly connect the Forces to the people, a very important goal in and of itself.
This new funding will not be sufficient to pay for big-ticket items. The navy needs two new supply ships and replacements or expensive refits for its four obsolete destroyers, at a minimum cost of $8-billion. The air force requires major upgrades to its air transport fleet and the long-awaited new helicopters to replace the Sea Kings. And the army, regular and reserve, needs more armoured vehicles and, in fact, more of everything from ammunition to clothing to trucks. The funding for an agreed shopping list must be guaranteed by the government so that rational planning and scheduling for the next decade can take place. The defence review should forecast what major purchases are needed and indicate the likely costs, certain to be at least $1.5-billion a year for the next 10 years.
In sum, the budgetary requirements to give Canada the 80,000 to 85,000 men and women in the military it requires and the right equipment they will need are heavy: $2.5-billion more than the present budget of $12-billion next year, $3.5-billion the year after, $4.5-billion in 2005, $5.5-billion in 2006, $6.5-billion in 2007, and $1.5-billion more each year thereafter for at least the next five years to cover the costs of major re-equipment projects.
Such budget increases will permit Canada to have a balanced military and to carry out its commitments in North America and to present and future NATO, European Union, and UN peace support operations. While the present Canadian Forces are simply not capable of participating in a major way in a war in 2003, for example, a Forces strengthened along these suggested lines could be capable of playing a useful coalition role by 2005 and doing much more at home and abroad.
Canadian defence policy must be steered in this direction. Without major change, Canadian sovereignty will become merely a rhetorical device; with such change, Canada will be able to keep its place at the North American table and deserve the right to be consulted by its great neighbour. We are facing important negotiations with Washington on a range of key economic and political issues in the coming years, and carrying our fair share of the defence burden might possibly strengthen our hand. Certainly, shirking our responsibilities will weaken it. Budgetary increases like those recommended here will also boost Canada's defence spending closer to the NATO per capita average, and this could also help relations with our European partners, and that might provide a limited counterbalance to the overwhelming American presence.
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