Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government has announced the most aggressive upgrade of Canada's military equipment in decades, laying out new expenditures of $15.3 billion to improve transportation capacities.Ah, Liberals.
The new spending fulfilled Mr. Harper's campaign promises from January's election and did not come as a big surprise. But it represented the biggest break in policy by the new and mostly cautious Conservative government from 13 years of Liberal previous governments. The Liberals reduced military spending to a low of $8.4 billion in 1998, one of the lowest per capita among industrial countries.
In recent years, the Canadian military has often been forced to rely on foreign and commercial equipment to transport its troops to global conflicts and emergencies. Critics often point to the December 2004 tsunami that struck Southeast Asia, when it took 12 days for the Canadian disaster relief team to secure transportation to the region. "With a strategic airlift capacity of our own, we will no longer have to borrow from our allies or contract commercial aircraft, two options that come with strings attached," Defense Minister Gordon O'Connor told reporters on Thursday.
The new equipment includes 2,300 trucks, 16 medium-lift helicopters, 17 planes to transport troops and 4 equipment cargo planes that are set to begin arriving in the next two years. Three new joint support ships will be ready beginning in 2012. The four equipment cargo planes will be able to transport troops and heavy equipment anywhere in the world, something Canada's military has not been capable of in recent years, Mr. O'Connor said.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
That you can smile about.