Jean Charest: It's time to increase defence spending
My Conservative government will make significant changes and upgrades to our nation's military capabilities.
By: Jean Charest
National security is a necessity, not a luxury. The war in Ukraine has illustrated the need to bolster our security capabilities here in Canada. The current government has remained content to underfund national defence for too long. The Liberal governments' inaction has undermined our ability to support our allies, most recently Ukraine.
Democracy is at stake. Lives are at stake. The world needs more from Canada. Now.
Recent shipments of lethal equipment, while welcome, are long overdue from the government and have been obstructed in many cases by further logistical challenges – a price you pay for being late out the blocks.
We need to stop playing catch up and start getting ahead with all public policy, but with national security policy in particular. Anticipation and planning are critical to protecting and defending our values when they are threatened by armed aggression and tyrants.
Our military procurement system is broken. For years experts have been warning about our incompetence at making major defence purchases. The past few weeks have shown us the price of our inaction.
While our allies, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, have entered into a new security pact to counter China in the Pacific, Canada wasn't even invited to the table.
Germany, Sweden, and other NATO allies promise to increase their military spending to prepare for the uncertain times ahead. Canada has a moral responsibility to act. Now is the time.
If elected as the leader, my Conservative government will make significant changes and upgrades to our nation's military capabilities. I will move quickly to ramp up Canadian defence spending to two percent of GDP, increase personnel to 100,000 and equip our forces for the challenging times ahead. I will modernize our cyber security infrastructure to prepare for future risks. And I will fix our embarrassing procurement system to ensure we get the equipment we desperately need.
The current conflict has also driven home the need to assert our sovereignty, especially in our North. As major sea lanes, essential to global trade and export of our natural resources, open within our arctic territory, we must be on high alert to Russian and Chinese encroachment. Neither recognizes our sovereignty there. In fact, no one really recognizes our sovereignty there and the imbalance in our military investments compared to our allies explains why that's the case.
The war in Ukraine is a cruel reminder of why we cannot ignore these threats. Russia has a modern military base in the arctic - another area where indecision and delay could be extremely costly unless addressed.
A proud Canada must assert its sovereignty in the North and generate military support through major investments in equipment and coordination with our NATO allies. We need to get our act together.
The threats remain real and demand immediate attention from leaders willing to act in the best interests of their respective nations.
Canadians need experience and expertise overseeing our military. We need a government that supports our military.
A Conservative government that places tangible outcomes ahead of politics will lead us through these dangerous times. This country's brightest minds and the best technology must be available and incentivized to contribute to our security, especially as warfare becomes more technological and unpredictable.
That includes investing in cybersecurity to protect the military and our critical industries. As with so many things, our energy sector is on the cutting edge of technology for defending itself from cyberattacks, and we need a government that doesn't vilify it but leans on its prowess to protect the country and the economy.
Jean Charest served as the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada from 1993 to 1998, deputy prime minister in 1993 and as the premier of Quebec from 2003 to 2012.
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