Canada to Boost Defense Spending by C$11.8 Billion From 2017

Canada plans to increase its military, anti-terrorism and security spending over the next decade as the country’s warplanes carry out airstrikes against Islamic State targets and after a pair of fatal domestic attacks on soldiers last year.

The budget unveiled Tuesday by Finance Minister Joe Oliver added billions in deferred new defense spending, which kicks in after two years and escalates over the following decade, adding a total of C$11.8 billion ($9.7 billion) in new spending between 2017 and 2027.

In the meantime, the government will spend a combined C$650 million on new counterterrorism efforts and Islamic State airstrikes, along with millions in new security for military bases, the Supreme Court and Parliament itself.

The new military and security spending is modest in comparison to other pledges -- for instance, the government’s budget announces more new money for veterans over the next five years than for defense and counterterrorism.

Canada’s defense budget, about C$20 billion in 2014-2015, currently gets mandatory funding increases of 2 percent annually. The budget proposes increasing that to 3 percent beginning in 2017. The government had raised the mandatory rate of increase in defense spending to 2 percent from 1.5 per cent in 2011-2012. Of the new military funding, C$1.1 billion is due by 2020.

The country has budgeted C$360 million this fiscal year for air strikes against Islamic State militants, which Parliament has voted to extend until at least 2016, with C$7.1 million in funding for a military training mission in Ukraine that drew criticism from Russia. Another C$94 million over five years was allotted to protect against cyberattacks.

The budget includes C$293 million over five years for Canada’s national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, its domestic spy agency and its border service to “provide additional investigative resources” so law enforcement can “keep pace with the evolving threat of terrorism and terrorist financing.” The head of the RCMP has said his police force has been forced to put other investigations on the backburner to instead divert staff to terrorism cases.

The new counter-terrorism money, though, will be phased in slowly, with only C$18 million allotted for the first year, rising to C$92 million by 2019-2020.

The budget offers an olive branch to critics of the federal government’s proposed changes to expand the powers of its two spy agencies without new oversight. The budget adds C$2.5 million annually for the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which reviews actions of Canada’s domestic spy agency. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has rejected widespread proposals for a parliamentary committee to oversee spying activities.

A pair of fatal attacks on soldiers in October, including one by a gunman who stormed Parliament Hill, led to an increase in security spending in the military and in the capital city of Ottawa.

The budget offers C$60 million over three years to boost security on Parliament Hill; C$2-million in new annual funding, over five years, for the Ottawa Police Service; C$8 million to beef up physical and information-technology security at the Supreme Court; and C$23 million over four years to boost physical security of Canadian Armed Forces bases.

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt will be authorized to order vehicle recalls and issue fines to auto manufacturers, budget documents show. Currently, the enforcement powers in Canada’s Motor Vehicle Safety Act don’t allow it to force a recall if a manufacturer does not voluntarily begin one.

Canada will “continue the major recapitalization” of its armed forces, the budget document says. The budget does not specify new money for military equipment, though the general defense budget is being increased.

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