Eleventh Report of National Security and Defence Committee and Request for Government ResponsePublished on 15 June 2017 Hansard and Statements by Senator Art Eggleton
Hon. Art Eggleton:
Honourable senators, this is the follow-up report to the one I just addressed, and I won’t be very long on this one.
This is entitled Reinvesting in the Canadian Armed Forces: A plan for the future, and it has some valid points.
I particularly want to note on page 2 that it talks about supporting the military family, and I strongly believe in this. It is something that I gave a high priority to when I was Minister of Defence. It states:
Every organization with an interest in the Canadian Armed Forces agrees that the care of military families must be a core undertaking, not only by the Department of National Defence, but also for the whole of Government. Families are the core of the Canadian Armed Forces. They must be respected, nurtured, listened to and supported.
I won’t go on from there, but I think that’s a very valid comment. I think Senator Jaffer was particularly supportive of that recommendation.
But there are some other recommendations in here that just don’t make sense. In fact, they’re tied to the 2 per cent proposition, because they’re suggesting the only way some of these purchases could be afforded is if we had a doubling of the budget. For example, Recommendation 5 talks about prioritizing the replacement of 55 of 95 Griffons with non-civilian medium- to heavy-lift helicopters and adding 24 attack helicopters. We don’t need every piece of equipment, platform or kind of thing that a military like the United States has. The United States, by the way, talks about the NATO allies paying out more money in Europe. The United States puts a lot of money into defence, but they’re not just in Europe. They’re in the Middle East, Korea, the South China Sea — all over the map — and when it comes to NATO, they have always wanted to be the leader. They have been the leader. In fact, they have been the head of the NATO military operations from its very beginning. They have wanted to have that kind of control.
But we don’t need to have every piece of equipment they do. We need to have the interoperability, and we need to have some equipment, for example, the Coyotes, as I mentioned earlier, where we got a contribution of equipment, state-of-the-art at that time, which others didn’t have.
They also talk about prioritizing the air refueling tankers and increasing the fighter jet fleet to 120 and the submarine fleet to 12 new submarines. I can tell you submarines are a very difficult thing to deal with, but building 12 new submarines would cost a fortune. It mentions 18 surface combatants. It goes on and on in terms of prioritizing.
Some of these things will be necessary. Some are upgrades or replacements of existing pieces of equipment, but there is far more here than what the budget could provide for, unless, of course, the 2 per cent of GDP actually happened, and it’s not going to happen.
The government has now come out with a plan, and I think that’s what needs to be examined together with this.
Motion in Amendment
Hon. Art Eggleton: Therefore, honourable senators, I move the following:
That the eleventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence be not now adopted, but that it be referred back to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence for consideration, particularly in light of the document entitled Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy, tabled in the Senate on June 7, 2017.
This is the government report from last week. I think the committee should now look at what they have suggested in this report, vis-à-vis that, and come back with some further commentary on it. I move that amendment.