More than a year after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, former ministers, ambassadors and chiefs of staff are calling on the Trudeau government to begin a “major reassessment” of Canada’s defense posture, in order to protect the country against potential “foreign or domestic” threats.
“Russia’s brutal war of aggression in Ukraine, Europe’s first major conflict since World War II, and the continued expansion of the military arsenals of authoritarian regimes willing to use force to carry out their revengeful policies should have resulted in a major reassessment of our defensive posture,” reads a letter signed by dozens of high-profile personalities, published Monday in the Debates section of La Presse.
Among the signatories are former Ministers of National Defense Peter MacKay and David Pratt, but also the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Beverley McLachlin, or the former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee. and Chief of the Defense Staff Raymond Henault. Several former ministers, senators, ambassadors or managers also join them.
Together, they lament that “unfortunately, the recent federal budget has largely been a summary of previous announcements, without recognizing that the government needs to accelerate spending programs and release significant additional funds to address long-standing deficits in of military capability and readiness”.
“It is essential that the government invest in improving the ability of the Ministry to spend its budget in a timely and timely manner,” they insist.
“The next defense policy update is overdue and comes at a time of great peril to global peace and security, given the threats posed by China and Russia,” the signatories maintain, however, noting that “Canada’s security and freedoms cannot be taken for granted.”
In the eyes of the signatories, the Trudeau government should immediately “expedite timelines and complete the critical work needed to address the poor state of our nation’s defense capabilities and readiness.” “Provided it is properly explained, we believe this could be achieved on a non-partisan basis and with broad public support,” they argue.
Ultimately, “Canada cannot afford to continue business as usual.” “We urge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet to take the lead and act with a sense of urgency to fulfill the NATO Secretary General’s call to treat the 2% of GDP target as a floor. and not a cap on spending,” the letter reads later.
Last June, Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux revealed in a report that the federal government would need to increase military spending by $75.3 billion over the next five years for Canada to meet the 2% target of its GDP to defence, as required by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
According to figures provided by the federal government as of last summer, Canada’s military spending will increase from $36.3 billion in 2022-23 to approximately $51 billion in 2026-27. This $15 billion increase will take the country’s military spending from 1.33% of GDP to 1.59%.
Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, there has been increasing pressure on the Trudeau government to dramatically increase defense spending.
At the end of August, the Canadian Armed Forces were 9,500 below the threshold of personnel ready for deployment. “It’s worrying and it puts us in a very precarious situation,” said Major-General Simon Bernard, director general of military personnel, in an interview with La Presse.
More recently, in February, Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would donate four additional Leopard 2 battle tanks to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces in their defense against Russian forces, bringing Canada’s contribution to eight tanks in total.