Are Canada’s Armed Forces Too Small?

The Toronto Star published this debate. World BEYOND War is republishing an excerpt on January 31, 2022

NO
Bianca Mugyenyi, Director of the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute

Those who profit from war and weapons sales want us to believe our security is dependent on increased military spending. But, for most Canadians, the opposite is true. In addition to a pandemic, our security threats are ecological, social and economic and expanding the largest federal government ministry cannot protect us from these crises.

Canada’s armed forces have 125,000 soldiers, reservists and other staff. The military manages the “largest infrastructure portfolio in the federal government” covering a land mass equal to half of Switzerland.

From chemical waste to bomb ordnance, its operations have scarred landscapes across the country. While little discussed, the Department of National Defence is also responsible for a staggering 59 per cent of federal government greenhouse gas emissions.

The environmentally damaging armed forces receive 15 times the public resources allocated to Environment and Climate Change Canada. On the world stage, Canada accounts for 1.1 per cent of international military spending, despite having less than 0.5 per cent of the global population. There are only 12 countries that spend more on their militaries than Canada.

In the two largest-ever federal government procurements, Ottawa plans to spend a combined $100 billion$350 billion over their life cycle — on 88 new fighter jets and 15 surface combatant vessels. The warplanes will carry 18,000 pounds of destructive ordnance. The warships, with state-of-the-art radars, will allow U.S. officials to launch “Canadian” missiles, including Tomahawk cruise missiles capable of hitting targets 1,700 kilometres away.

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