Canada to Act on Armed Forces Underfunding

OTTAWA --- Years of underinvestment are taking a toll on Canada’s military with no funding earmarked for key capabilities such as new surveillance aircraft, helicopter upgrades and bulldozers and tank transporters.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan will use an Ottawa speech Wednesday to paint a stark picture of the financial crunch facing the military — a message that could reinforce Washington’s call on Canada to boost defence spending.

The speech is meant as a prelude for a Liberal announcement expected in the coming weeks that will lay out a new defence policy for the country and with it, the promise of long-term spending.

That new policy was meant to look ahead at the kind of threats Canada’s military needs to be ready to cope with in the future.

But the review will also confront a less well-known challenge facing the military — “the hollow state of affairs that are not about tomorrow’s threats,” a government official told the Star.

Sajjan’s event on Wednesday will serve as a reality check and could set the stage for a national debate on funding for the military — and how much more the armed forces should get.

“We’re starting from a hole that is not commonly understood,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The evidence of that is the list of “core, bread and butter” capabilities within the Canadian Armed Forces that need to be upgraded or replaced and yet have no funding set aside.

These include projects for a new “multi-mission aircraft” to replace the CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft by 2026; a mid-life upgrade for the Cormorant helicopter; future aircrew training program; bulldozers, forklifts and other ancillary equipment for the army; logistics vehicles such as tank transporters; enhanced satellite communications in the Arctic. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on The Star website.

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