You can’t be a G8 member and go to all the big meetings, discuss the world’s problems, and not contribute, says a member of a national defence think tank.

“Otherwise, they’ll say, ‘Canada ... why are you coming to the meetings if you’re not contributing to solving the problem?’” said Eric Lehre, representing the Centre for Defence and Foreign Affairs as well as the Centre for Canadian Policy Studies at Dalhousie University.

He supports Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s announcement yesterday of roughly $30 billion over the next 20 years to increase the capabilities of the armed forces.


New equipment and additional personnel will help Canada contribute whether it’s providing aid to disaster-stricken countries like Myanmar or fighting for sovereignty in the Arctic, he said.
Critics, however, say Harper’s announcement is nothing new.

Deputy leader of the Liberal party Michael Ignatieff criticized the prime minister after question period in Ottawa.

“Looks like re-announcements to me,” he said. “They’re staggering through a minority government and they’re already deciding how they are going to spend the people’s money in 20 years” But Lehre said he thinks some of the details in the strategy are, in fact, new.

“He has outlined, not just the capital purchase that he has made over the past two years, he’s outlined what he is going to be buying and that’s important,” Lehre said.

The only foreseeable problem is if a different government takes over office during the 20 years of the strategy.

“One government decides it’s going to buy naval helicopters, the next government gets in — as they did in 1994 — and they cancel the helicopter program,” he said, referring to the Liberals’ decision to axe a contract for helicopters when Paul Martin took power.

“If you do things that way, you’re never going to get there.”

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