Conservative leadership candidates Lewis and Gladu will increase military spending

Written By Anthony Daoud, Posted on March 6, 2020

In a recent meeting with supporters, Conservative Party leadership hopefuls Leslyn Lewis and Marilyn Gladu discussed the need for Canada to allocate 2% of the national GDP on its armed forces. Both candidates stressed the risk neglecting the military has on protecting Canadian sovereignty. China, Russia, and radical Islam are the three greatest exogenous dangers facing our nation, and a solution to subduing the threats is through bolstering the military. 

O’Toole, an ex-RCAF pilot, has also pledged to provide better funding to the military.  

The Numbers

Canada currently has 88,000 available military personnel. Sixty-four thousand are active, and 24,000 are in the reserves.

Each year, over 400,000 reach the eligibility age to serve in the Armed Forces. This leads to a total of 16,000,000 available workforces and over 13,000,000 being fit for service. 

The current levels of available military personnel may be misleading. Canada boasts an exceptional number of citizens fit for service if such events require its use.

As well, members of the Canadian military must undergo a highly intense level of basic training to qualify and begin their careers in the Armed Forces.

State of Affairs

A 2013 report by the National Post noted that the Canadian military has been having to accept recruits who are fatter, less educated and harder to motivate than previous generations because quality applicants are in dwindling supply, an internal Defence Department audit has concluded.

To remain at a constant level, the military needs more than 4,000 recruits each year to offset attrition and keep 68,000 full-time troops in uniform.

The audit was conducted and found that “fitness and educational levels of recruits in the last five years have been slightly lower than in the past,” while “compared to previous generations, recruits of today are described as harder to motivate.”

In 2018, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) reported a shortage of 275 pilots. It also needs more mechanics, sensor operators and other trained personnel in the face of increasing demands at home and abroad. The situation is in such confusion that it has added pressure on Canada’s flying corps and represents a challenge for the foreseeable future.

Work conditions

In the Air Force, burnout has become an unfortunate reality for many because employees are left doing the work of unfilled positions. The overwork affects them psychologically and has already incentivized many pilots to go for commercial airlines instead.

James Bezan, the Conservative defence critic, said that another likely cause for the drop in RCAF pilots is a result of the CF-18 fighter jets being too old.

A second National Defence audit has found that many of Canada’s military bases are falling apart. This is because of systematic underspending on the maintenance, repair and replacement of sewers, roads and electrical, heating systems. It also concludes that the risk of electrical outages, sewer backups and other service disruptions at military bases is set to increase. The disruptions threaten the health and welfare of those living or working on or near the base.

How to proceed

If the Canadian government fails to take care of bases and the general welfare of its military personnel, it will ultimately fail to attract recruits and need to further rely on America. If we wish to emancipate from America’s shadow, bolstering military capabilities will send a strong statement. It would also increase the power to deter foreign threats.

The federal government’s failure to address military spending has soured our relationship with our most significant ally. Since being elected in 2016, American President Donald Trump has relentlessly reprimanded Trudeau’s embarrassment on the issue. At the 2019 NATO summit, Trudeau was left consulting his advisors after the American president affirmatively asked him what our “numbers were at.” Later that day, Trudeau was found gossiping with Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson.

The future

As an integral member of NATO, Canada is obliged to match the 2% GDP spending requirement. In doing so, we will yield greater legitimacy without having to secure a seat on the United Nations Security Council. A powerful military will place us above the other NATO states, and we can have more influence in the organization’s deliberation process. 

The conservation of sovereignty is a basic conservative principle that ought to be prioritized by the entire Conservative caucus. Among other policies, addressing the military will leave Canada in a better position to defend our borders and deter exogenous threats from China, Russia, and radical Islamic terrorism. 

Anthony Daoud

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