Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Battle over DND Budget as Liberals Claim Spending on Track to Historical Low

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Battle over DND Budget as Liberals Claim Spending on Track to Historical Low

Article excerpt

Political battle brewing over DND budget

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OTTAWA - Numbers compiled by the federal Liberals suggest spending on the Canadian military will hit a historic low in the coming decade, despite a planned Conservative injection of $11.8 billion starting in 2017.

The party is using the traditional comparison of defence dollars measured against the overall size of the economy, which is how all nations benchmark military spending.

The figures suggest that by the time the Conservative government's budget plan is fully implemented in 2027, the country will be spending 0.89 per cent of its gross domestic product on defence.

Currently, it spends roughly 1.02 per cent of GDP on the military, and is under pressure from allies -- notably the Americans and British -- to meet the NATO standard of two per cent.

Defence Minister Jason Kenney is defending the spending plan, saying the Conservatives have rebuilt the capabilities of the military and increased the National Defence budget by 27 per cent compared to 2006 -- a calculation that ignores inflation.

Liberal defence critic Joyce Murray says Kenney further undermines his own credibility by not mentioning that the defence budget was cut by $2.1 billion annually in order to balance the federal books.

"This government hasn't been able to tell the truth on defence," Murray said.

"Their promises of increased funding are not credible in light of (past) promises and cuts. And, even if they were to implement this delayed increase, this would still reduce our military's share of GDP to just point eight per cent, which is unprecedented."

A spokesman for Kenney dismissed the Liberal claims.

"We won't take any lessons on defence spending from the Liberals, who oversaw the 'decade of darkness' where spending was slashed and the procurement of new equipment was non-existent," Daniel Proussalidis said in an email. …

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