Monday, December 14, 2009

Harper 'throwing money at the military'

Canadian Military Spending 2009
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: Canadians could be forgiven for thinking that they spend a mere pittance on their military: politicians and pundits constantly bombard us with the claim that Canada is a military miser. Most Canadians would probably be stunned to learn that Canada is actually among the top 15 military spenders in the world, and the 6th largest spender among the 28 members of NATO. They might also be surprised to learn that Canadian military spending is now higher than it has been in more than 60 years -- higher than it was during the Cold War, or indeed at any time since the end of the Second World War.

Canwest News: For the fiscal year that ends in March, Canada will have spent a little more than $21 billion on national defence. That's nearly 10 per cent of all federal government spending... After adjusting for inflation, Canadian military spending this year was up 9.6 per cent compared to last year and is even 15 per cent higher than at the peak of the Cold War in 1952-53.

Sun Media: A new study puts Canada near the top of the pack on defence spending... Latest budget estimates show Canada is spending $21.2 billion in the 2009-2010 fiscal year -- nearly 10% more than the year before. Bill Robinson, a defence analyst with the Rideau Institute, said the government is throwing money at the military at the expense of other important issues... And he sees little to show for our investment in terms of enhanced global security.

Ottawa Citizen: Contrary to claims often heard in Canada that UN peacekeeping is dead, the demand for such troops has actually grown in recent years. As of September, there were 83,853 UN peacekeeping soldiers participating in 15 operations around the world. The study points out that Canada was contributing just 55 military personnel at that time, while Cambodia contributed 58. Romania was right behind Canada, at 52.

At times in the 1990s there were more than 3,000 Canadian troops assigned to UN missions... Before the mid-90s, Canada was consistently among the top 10 contributors to UN peacekeeping missions.

'There has been a real decision by Canada to abandon peacekeeping, certainly in the military and government,' said the report's author, Bill Robinson. 'Peacekeeping, however, didn't go away.' He said senior Canadian military leaders and members of the defence lobby have been successful in convincing Canadians that 'peacekeeping is dead. What they haven't been successful at is convincing Canadians that peacekeeping has no value. Canadians take pride in peacekeeping and want to get back to it.'

In September, the government released the results of a public-opinion poll conducted for National Defence in which half of those Canadians surveyed said they wanted their soldiers to return to a 'peacekeeping-only' role. The Ipsos-Reid poll, done in March 2008, noted there was 'a small, but statistically significant increase' in the number of people who supported a peacekeeping-only international mission for Canadian soldiers. Military officers and soldiers, however, prefer combat-oriented operations, such as those in Afghanistan.
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