Why the conservatives are right on Defence?

vendredi 5 mars 2010 ·

Looking at Canada's new federal budget, several Quebec friends of mine questionned why spending on National Defence was not being curtailled. In their mind, deficit-fighting implies a reduction in defence spending. I would tend to agree if we reduced the number of missions we undertook. However, since 1990, Canada has tended to multiply the number of missions it participate in. The most notable being Afghanistan but let us not forget the police mission in Iraq (yes, Iraq!), Lebanon evacuation, Haïti aid, Timor, Soudan and Côte d'Ivoire. Add to this the missions like Korea that were still underway in the mid-nineties and you end up with a pretty huge military commitment.

Thing is that at the same we started demanding more of our troops, we started to reduce spending on their back.

But as I said, it doesnt matter if we cut defence spending if at the same time we curtail our involvement. I personally don't believe that this should be the case either way. But if we do demand more and reduce spending as we see above for a few years, we are stopping the continuous process of military renewal. Hence, we are pushing spending further in the future when it is unavoidable. That is exactly what happened, the liberals did cut spending on defence and few new investments in weaponery were made. This meant that at one point, there should be massive spending in one short burst, which is what we have seen with the conservatives. That is we have postponed necessary spending until we were forced to do it at a higher share of total government spending.

Trust me, I am all for cutting transfers to provinces, reducing subsidies, slashing supply management and the Human Resources department, but defence is one of those spending posts that we have to be more careful. Either we reduce our missions or we increase spending.

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Bryan Breguet est candidat au doctorat en sciences économiques à l’université de Colombie-Britannique. D’origine Suisse, il a passé les cinq dernières années au Québec au cours desquelles il s’est engagé en politique provinciale malgré le fait qu’il ne possédait pas encore la citoyenneté canadienne. Il détient un B.Sc en économie et politique ainsi qu’une maitrise en sciences économiques de l’université de Montréal. Récipiendaire de plusieurs prix d’excellences et bourses, il connaît bien les méthodes quantitatives et leurs applications à la politique.

Vincent Geloso holds a master’s degree in economic history from the London School of Economics, with a focus on business cycles, international development, labor markets in preindustrial Europe and the new institutional economics. His research work examined the economic history of the province of Quebec from 1920 to 1960. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from the Université de Montréal. He has also studied in the United States at the Washington Centre for Academic Seminars and Internships. Mr. Geloso has been an intern for the Prime Minister’s cabinet in Ottawa and for the National Post. He has also been the recipient of a fellowship from the Institute for Humane Studies and an international mobility bursary from the Ministère des Relations internationales du Québec. Currently, he is an economist at the Montreal Economic Institute.

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