Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sketched on the back of a cocktail napkin

A telling exchange from Milnet.ca:

E.R. Campbell - « Reply #16 on: Yesterday at 14:54:25 »

Sorry to rain on the parade but, I’m with Old Sweat:

  • According to Statistics Canada our GDP at end 2007 was $1.558 Trillion and our defence budget for 2007/08 is $16.881 Billion which equals 1.08% of GDP;

  • If the defence budget is $30 Billion by 2027 then that will equal only 1.32% of GDP, IF GDP rises much more slowly than most economist predict;

  • As The Ruxted Group has pointed out, a more reasonable level of expenditure on national defence for a would-be Leading Middle Power is 2%+ of GDP; and

  • 2.2% (Ruxted’s number) of a very conservatively projected GDP in 2027 of $2.271 Trillion would be $49.965 Billion- nearly $20 Billion more than Prime Minister Harper promises.

But, getting the defence budget to 2% of GDP may be more than the political system can manage. If we grew the budget by stages starting at 2% real growth in 2008/09 and getting to 5% real growth by 2017 – a not unreasonable number when one considers that the inflation rate for things like fuel, ammunition and MILSPEC equipment is waaaaay higher than the general inflation rate of 2%± - we would have a budget of just about $40 Billion by 2027. That's not the $50 Billion we need but better than the $30 Billion Harper is promising.

On the bright side growing the budget from 1.08% to 1.3%of GDP is, at least, not disarmament by stealth.


Lone Wolf Quagmire - « Reply #17 on: Yesterday at 15:01:13 »

Well you know what we Cpl's say. "Its better then a kick in the junk!"

David Pugliese writes an article that backs up our impressions here at The Torch:

Canada's defence strategy for the next 20 years will be based on speeches by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Defence Minister Peter MacKay given yesterday in Halifax.

In a highly unusual move, the Conservative government will base its entire future rebuilding of the Canadian military on Mr. Harper's 10-minute speech and Mr. MacKay's 700-word address. No actual strategy document has been produced, or will be produced, according to government and defence officials. Neither speech went into any specific details about equipment purchases, costs or timelines or how the future strategy will unfold. Both speeches presented more broad-brush approaches to defence.

Asked about when the actual Canada First Defence Strategy was going to be released, Jay Paxton, Mr. MacKay's press secretary, replied: "It is a strategy that you heard enunciated by the prime minister and Minister MacKay."

"It is not a 'document' like a white paper -- it is the vision delivered today for long-term planning for the CF," he added. "As such, the speeches are the strategy."

I'm speculating, but what this tells me is that the Conservatives - for reasons that quite frankly baffle me - are hoping the average Canadian and defence watcher sides more with the Corporals quoted above: "Its better then a kick in the junk!"

But as far as I'm concerned, the NDP's Dawn Black hit the nail on the head, here:

NDP defence critic Dawn Black said even the previous Liberal government produced a strategy document when it last announced its defence policy for the future. "It's appalling that defence is the biggest expenditure of government and yet there's no strategic documents to go with this supposed plan," Ms. Black said. "We waited two years for this, if you can believe it."

Hear, hear, Ms. Black.

Update: From something I wrote more than two years ago:

Interestingly, my concerns with the Conservative platform (page 23 of the pdf, but 45 of the policy book) are exactly the opposite to those I harbour about the Liberal plan. While the Liberals have communicated a vision with mediocre details and follow-through, the Conservatives have laid out significant detail without an overarching policy. Perhaps the Tories assume the policy status quo holds unless contradicted, but I would have liked to have seen that affirmed in their platform. Because, as I've said before, without a cohesive policy thread to hold it all together, their platform is just a series of spending announcements. Welcome and needed spending announcements, mind you, but hardly a defence policy.

I'd like some policy, please. Spending can be turned on and off at a whim. With policy behind it, governments need to at least make a half-hearted show of an argument to justify budgetary changing course. So I want some policy to back up the Conservative spending promises.

We're talking about a budget in the tens of billions of dollars. I don't think a written policy statement is too much to ask.

Updatest: Don Martin hits the nail on the head.

As commenter Zip said over at this thread: "...it's not worth the paper it's not written on."

Up-the-flagpole-date: Here's some informed speculation I just heard:

  • There was significant conflict between Hillier and O’Connor over this policy statement which prevented its release except in snippets over the past few years and usually made by the MND on his own.

  • There are supporting documents, but they are for the most part still under negotiation or being developed and face the challenge of competing visions.

  • The government is trying to shift the focus of the debate back to their election platform which is about protecting Canada’s north and building increased capability in various parts of the country (i.e. maritime commando unit in Comox, northern trg centre in Goose Bay, ice hardened frigates and an arctic port, heavy lift helos and Bagotville, territorial battalion for major population centres, etc.) and not about progressing the war in Afghanistan. They think it is an election winner and would rather fight an election on this than over the war.

  • They are doing it at this time because the CDS, who had been the key roadblock on much of this is on the way out, and before a new CDS is brought on board who may oppose it, especially if it’s Natynczyk.

I'm afraid this sounds more than plausible to me, it sounds downright likely.


Blogger Minicapt said...

4 words: White Paper- Foreign Affairs.


1:07 a.m., May 14, 2008  
Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

OK, I'll bite: what are you trying to tell us with those four words, Minicapt?

9:24 a.m., May 14, 2008  
Blogger Minicapt said...

Because a Canadian Defence Strategy must be based on a Canadian Foreign Affairs Strategy. Without out the latter, the CF makes ad-hoc decisions based on NDHQ interpretations of world affairs. The decision to send the DART to country X must be made by DFAIT; NDHQ is responsible for the deployment. In the absence of a DFAIT Canada Strategy, such decisions cannot be made other than off the cuff. Likewise the question of building Arctic destroyers: DFAIT is supposed to be the repository of diplomatic customs and traditions which impact on how Canada governs the North, and what resources are required for such. Sovereignty over Ellesmere Island can be demonstrated several ways, but if the way chosen by Canada is not according to international custom, the effort is meaningless. Thus we are back to DFAIT.

Some decisions can be made on cost-benefit grounds; others can be made based on perceptions and symbolism. And DFAIT is responsible for those. The necessity for tanks, fighters and blue water ships can then be established IAW the international situation and customary behaviors as advised by DFAIT. Once DFAIT has put together a Canada Foreign Affairs Strategy.


6:06 p.m., May 15, 2008  

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