Defence Minister Bill Blair says his government is discussing major potential investments in the Canadian military, but the country’s fiscal situation will have an impact on the issue.
The minister was responding to the interviewer stating that Canada currently invests 1.23 percent of its GDP in defence, below the two percent target established by NATO.
Mr. Blair said his government believes new resources are required because of a “changing” world, noting the “increasingly aggressive” posture taken by Russia and China and Canada’s obligations in the Indo-Pacific, the Arctic, and in NATO.
“I hope I’ve made it very clear publicly that we recognize we must do more, we’re going to do more,” said Mr. Blair. “But there’s also some context in the doing that more because there is a fiscal situation in Canada that I have to be realistic about.”
National Defence has been identified by the Treasury Board as one of the departments needing to make cuts, as it looks to find savings of $15 billion. DND has been asked to reduce expenses by about $1 billion in the fields of professional services, consultants, and travel.
Mr. Blair told the House of Commons defence committee Nov. 23 he was “absolutely committed” the cuts would not impact serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).
‘Unacceptable Amount of Time’Mr. Blair also addressed $2 billion from the defence budget that lapsed in the previous fiscal year, saying the inability of the department to spend is linked to inefficient procurement processes.
“It takes sometimes an inordinate amount of time and an unacceptable amount of time” to acquire equipment, said the minister during the Global News interview.
The commander of the Royal Canadian Navy said his force is in a “critical state” and faces challenges which “could mean we fail to meet our force posture and readiness commitments in 2024 and beyond.”
The minister responded that he works very closely with the heads of the various military services.
Mr. Blair said it is important to have “with each other, but also with Canadians, candid, stark, and frank conversations about what is required...to complete the mission of keeping Canada safe and also to living up to our very significant international commitments.”