Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Halifax yesterday to announce a long-term, $30-billion Canadian defence plan that will infuse the Canadian Forces with new or upgraded equipment and about 10,000 more military personnel over the next 20 years.
Harper said if a country wants to be taken seriously, it must have the capacity to act.
“Otherwise you forfeit your right to be a player,” he said.
But as Harper and Defence Minister Peter MacKay unveiled the details of the plan, some were left questioning what was actually new.
Many of the items in the strategy had been previously announced.
“The newest thing about this announcement is that it is a long-term plan,” Harper told the media and about 200 military personnel at the Halifax Armoury.
The Canada First Defence Strategy will increase the regular force personnel from 65,000 to 70,000 and reserve personnel from 24,000 to 30,000.
The government announced this increase in 2006 but said in a release last November the numbers weren’t accounted for in federal spending.
In addition to people, the strategy will ensure the Canadian Forces has the equipment it needs to do its job.
“Government in the past was finding that it was responding to the problems of rust-out and obsolescence of equipment by announcing ‘one-off’ purchases as the budget allowed,” Harper said.
For the first time in modern history, said MacKay, the Canadian Forces will be able to plan for the future.
Several pieces on the equipment renewal list have already been announced in the past year.
Harper said the government will invest in six categories of equipment but he was unable to offer specific timelines or costs.
“We’re obviously not going to unveil some of the financial numbers or exact timing of some of those because they will be subject to negotiations with some of the suppliers,” he said.
MacKay added that over the next 20 years, six of the Canadian Forces fleets will reach the end of their operational lives and need to be replaced.