A shift again to back burner

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It will be interesting to see whether this impacts expectations for the much-anticipated shipbuilding program in Nova Scotia. At any rate, the upcoming federal budget is reported to contain substantial cuts in military spending – as suggested in an army-planning document obtained by The Canadian Press.

The Conservatives, quite obviously, won’t be the first to target defence when it comes to finding areas to cut. The Liberals while in office shifted military needs to the back burner.

It made plenty of sense at the time. The Cold War was deemed to be at an end. Then along comes the Sept. 11 attack and the perceived need to stand alongside the United States in some sort of response. Now, more than a decade later, think of how much Afghanistan involvement affected Canada’s spending.

The document shows the military is expecting a further eight per cent cut, following an earlier 22 per cent budget reduction.

With the winding down of the Afghanistan mission, such reduced emphasis would seem to make sense.

But keep in mind other intentions of this government, such as beefing up presence in Canada’s Arctic region, amid growing interest in developing its resources and potential claims from other countries.

As with the reduced spending through the 1990s, when a government is desperately trying to find areas to rein in spending, the defence budget is going to look pretty tempting when there are no pressing needs. And this country does enjoy relatively peaceful relations in the world.

We’ll have to hope it stays that way. If anyone saw 9/11 coming, they certainly didn’t prepare for it. In any case, one could argue that the response as it played out didn’t accomplish much, if anything.

The coming reductions will mean a great deal where military preparedness is concerned. This government and any future one will have to keep that knowledge front and centre if or when the issue of military involvement presents itself.

Organizations: Canadian Press.The Conservatives

Geographic location: Afghanistan, Canada, Nova Scotia United States Arctic

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