Blair advocates for increased defence spending in advance of mini budget – National
The Defence Minister, Bill Blair, is urging the Prime Minister’s Office and the Department of Finance to increase defence spending before the fall mini-budget. During an interview at the Halifax International Security Forum, Blair emphasized the need for more funding for the Canadian Armed Forces. This push is happening as the Liberal government attempts to minimize spending in all areas, including cutting hundreds of millions from the defence budget. Blair mentioned the pressure just days before Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is set to present a fall economic statement. At the same time, he acknowledged other important considerations such as affordability and health that are also a priority for Canadians.
Blair confirmed in the interview his intention to continue advocating for significant new investments in defence to meet obligations and keep Canada safe. The message was reiterated at the Halifax forum, where discussions covered a range of security and defence topics. A report from the Department of National Defence highlighted concerning factors that are straining the Canadian Armed Forces, leading to decreased operational readiness. General Wayne Eyre, Canada’s chief of defence staff, expressed concerns about personnel and equipment shortages. He also mentioned that the CAF is low on vital munitions, partly due to donations to Ukraine.
According to Scarborough Liberal MP John MacKay, Canada has been underinvesting in defence, diplomacy, and development for several years, putting the country in a precarious position amidst global conflict. Despite the urgent need for increased spending on national defence, MacKay recognized that these priorities are not resonating with the population. However, James Bezan, the Conservative ‘shadow minister’ for national defence, pledged that a government led by his party would honor commitments to NATO and invest in the Canadian Armed Forces. This rings especially true because a Conservative government would always live up to the country’s commitments.
The future of defence spending will likely to be revealed when the government’s Fall Economic Statement is presented. This statement is expected to be delivered by Freeland, who doubles as the finance minister. The extent to which future defence spending plans will be detailed in the document remains to be seen.