Canada coughing up billions more in defence spending
There's always enough money for militarization, even as prices soar
On Monday, Defence Minister Anita Anand officially announced the government will spend $4.9 billion this year on upgrading NORAD, its joint air defence system with the United States, which was dutifully reported by CBC defence correspondent Murray Brewster.
These funds will come from the $8-billion increase in military funding previously announced in the budget, which also includes more weapons for Ukraine and more equipment for Canadian Forces, all for the sake of gradually reaching NATO’s target of 2% of its members GDPs being spent on their militaries.
An accompanying TV segment on Power and Politics titled “Canada investing nearly $5B in modernizing NORAD — but is it enough?” posed the titular question to former NORAD deputy commander Tom Lawson, who said it was just the right amount, since the U.S. pays for 60% of NORAD’s cost.
If we don’t give more money to his former employer, Russian President Vladimir Putin might nuke us, Lawson warned.
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“As soon as a nation out there achieves an ability to perhaps launch a surprise attack with nuclear missiles that move at hypersonic speeds, well now if NORAD no longer has a system of surveillance that allows us to react in time, is there a chance that a leader like Putin might consider an attack? That becomes increasingly likely,” Lawson said.
In the next breath, he acknowledged Canada is “one of the most unthreatened nations” on earth and that this increased spending is to simply shed the country’s “freeloader” image among its military partners.
So which one is it, Tom?
Brewster’s piece notes in passing that the total cost for upgrading NORAD will be $40 billion over the next two decades, and that there’s no cost breakdown.
At the Ottawa Citizen, David Pugliese cuts through the bullshit, as usual, pointing out that the total cost for the upgrade was pegged last year in the range of $10 billion to $14 billion. Defence sources warned at the time the cost could go as high as $20 billion. Now that cautionary figure has been doubled, and one thing’s for sure — it won’t be going down.
When asked about procurement problems and how that might affect the Liberal plan, Anand pushed back. Her response to the “narrative” that military procurement was broken was to highlight what she suggested were procurement successes. She specifically mentioned the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships, the ongoing F-35 fighter jet negotiations, and the 40 or so drone cameras that Canada bought for Ukraine.
Those, however, might not be the best examples to convince the public the $40[-]billion NORAD modernization scheme won’t go off the rails.
The price of the Arctic patrol ships, which were delivered seven years late, increased to $4.3 billion from $2.6 billion.
While Justin Trudeau campaigned in 2015 against former prime minister Stephen Harper’s plans to purchase 65 F-35s, arguing the jets didn’t work, he announced this year the government will purchase 88 of them for upwards of $19 billion, citing the war in Ukraine. Those jets, however, won’t be fully delivered until 2031.
The drone cameras sent to Ukraine involved a small number of sensors, some of which were already in production, and there was no competitive bidding process, which enabled them to be shipped out quickly.
Anand said at her Monday news conference that she understands how Canadians might question spending $40 billion on NORAD. But she claimed the massive amount of funding will create tens of thousands of Canadian jobs, although she presented no evidence to back that up.
Anand, however, need not worry about too much pushback for her $40 billion plan.
Canadians are too busy struggling to find a doctor or afford a house or make ends meet as food and gas costs continue to rise. They likely won’t pay attention to billions more spent on defence.
It’s revealing how ballooning defence expenditures seldom factor into discussions around inflation or deficits.
Edited by Scott Schmidt