OTTAWA – A defence economist says budget-slashing over the last few years at National Defence has removed as much as $30 billion from the Harper government’s original defence strategy.
Dave Perry, a senior analyst at the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, says the impact of the government’s strategic review, deficit reduction plan and postponement of capital purchases means the department is actually going backwards in terms of spending.
Perry says once adjusted for inflation, the Department of National Defence will spend less money this year than it did in 2007.
The figures are analyzed against the numbers laid out in the government’s watershed 2008 strategy.
Further, says Perry, operating budget freezes – imposed four years ago and renewed in Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s latest fiscal plan – are siphoning off an additional $9 billion in operations and maintenance funds to cover rising personnel costs.
Perry’s assessment contrasts sharply with the upbeat view offered by Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, who trumpets the government’s investments and insists it has built a first-class, modern military.