OTTAWA, ON (May 27, 2022): While Canada joined its allies this spring in promising to hike defence budgets, the US Ambassador to Canada this week called Ottawa’s latest military investments “disappointing” in light of global instability caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
US Ambassador David Cohen, in a May 26 interview in the National Post, acknowledged that Canada bumped up military spending to $8 billion in its spring budget, but was critical of what he called a government talking a bigger game than they play.
“In the public discourse leading up to the release of the budget, the rhetoric from senior Canadian government officials implied that there would be a significant increase in defence spending,” Cohen says in the National Post article.
“It’s fair to say that although $8 billion is more money, it was a little disappointing as matched against the rhetoric that we heard leading into the release of the budget.”
The remarks are the latest in decades of criticism Canada has faced over its reputation for cash-starving its military, reluctance to replace outdated equipment and failing to pay its share of support for NATO.
Cohen’s assessment also supports the findings of multiple reports by Macdonald-Laurier Institute Senior Fellow and defence policy expert Richard Shimooka.
“The Canadian military is threadbare and saddled with obsolete equipment, making it unable to provide any meaningful response to the crisis,” Shimooka wrote earlier this year in the Vancouver Sun. “It is a shameful situation for the world’s 10th largest economy, which once possessed one of the most advanced militaries in the Western world.”
Last month Shimooka wrote that the latest budget “provides little relief” and will have diminished buying power because years of maintaining 40-year-old aircraft and 30-year-old armored vehicles have left Canada’s forces with massive repair costs to keep a percentage of its aging equipment operational.
“Canada now has major gaps in some of its most essential defence capabilities,” he wrote. “It has no air defence or modern artillery to enable operations in a conflict anywhere approaching the intensity of what we are witnessing in Ukraine today. This does not even take into account essential new technologies the armed forces require to work with our allies, such as in battlefield networking or unmanned combat vehicles.”
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