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Canadian Military 'Bankrupt'

Internal reports say $500M shortfall may cause closures from Winnipeg to Labrador

 

Chris Wattie

National Post

 

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

 

Canada's army, navy and air force are facing a funding shortfall of up to half a billion dollars, defence sources told the National Post, and the military is recommending drastic measures to make up the difference, including closing some of the largest bases in the country.

 

The federal government is stalling the release of internal documents that outline the looming financial crisis, but military sources said the reports indicate that in the fiscal year beginning on April 1, the air force expects to be $150-million short of funds needed to fulfill its commitments, the navy will be $150-million shy of its needs and the army will be as much as $200-million short.

 

The figures were submitted to General Ray Henault, the Chief of Defence Staff, last month by the heads of the land staff, the maritime staff and the air staff in anticipation of this year's defence budget.

 

The military sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the reports foresee a situation so dire that they recommend curtailing operations, dry-docking ships and mothballing vehicles or aircraft and closing at least four Canadian Forces bases.

 

Unless additional funding is awarded by the government, the air force is suggesting closing bases at Goose Bay, Nfld., Bagotville, Que., North Bay and Winnipeg, the sources said.

 

Further, the air force report says that unless its fleet of ageing CC-130 Hercules transport planes is replaced or modernized, the main transport base at Trenton should be closed within 10 years. "There won't be enough Hercs flying by then to justify keeping that base open," one air force source said.

 

The navy predicts it will not be able to live up to treaty obligations to NATO and other alliances and cannot carry out enough patrols of Canadian waters to comply with agreements with other government departments such as Immigration Canada or Fisheries and Oceans.

 

"We will not be able to meet our domestic defence obligations," one naval officer said.

 

The army is said to be in the worst financial state of all three branches of the Canadian Forces. "Everyone knows that the army's broke and has been for a couple of years," said one military source familiar with the reports.

 

Colonel Howard Marsh, a former senior army staff officer now working as an analyst for the Conference of Defence Associations, said he was not surprised by the size of the shortfall.

 

"This is a look forward ... at what they need in order to keep the army going," he said. "Nobody has ever seen a bankrupt military in a developed country.... This year I predict we will see that in Canada."

 

Col. Marsh said the military is saddled with ageing bases and increasingly dilapidated buildings that are fast reaching the point of collapse. "What they've been doing, year in and year out ... is not replace or repair those buildings, or buy new equipment," he said.

 

"The average age of the equipment in the Canadian Forces is over 20 years and it hasn't been well-maintained."

 

The Liberal government reduced defence spending by 23% and cut the number of regular military personnel to approximately 60,000 from 80,000 between 1993 and 2000. There were 120,000 people in the Canadian military in 1958.

 

In 2003, the defence budget was increased $800-million to $12.7-billion, the single largest increase since the Liberals came to power. But that still left the total below that of 1991, when the Mulroney Conservatives committed troops to the Gulf War and the defence budget stood at $12.8-billion.

 

Jay Hill, the Conservative defence critic, said the reports outline the result of more than a decade of Liberal cuts to the Canadian Forces.

 

"They shouldn't even be in this position," he said. "They shouldn't be having to look for nickel and dime savings when the government is blowing hundreds of millions on sponsorship programs."

 

Mr. Hill called on the government to make the three reports available immediately. "This flies in the face of this Prime Minister's stated commitment to being open and transparent," he said.

 

The Department of National Defence has refused to make public the annual reports, known as command impact assessments.

 

Defence officials this week turned down a request by the National Post and the influential defence publication Jane's Defence Weekly to see the reports under access to information legislation.

 

Judith Mooney, the director of access to information for the Department of National Defence, said the reports will not be made public for another three to five weeks because they are considered "draft" documents.

 

"I exercised my discretion to withhold the documents until the [Defence] Department's business-planning process is complete, at which time they will be released," she said.

 

Ms. Mooney could not say when exactly the reports would be released, but indicated they would be available by the end of March.

 

Although that would delay them until after the release of the federal budget, which is expected on March 23, she said David Pratt, the Defence Minister, was not involved in the decision to withhold the reports until then. Mr. Pratt did not reply to repeated requests for comment on the reports.

 

In previous years, the assessments have been made public.

 

This year's reports paint a picture even more bleak than last year's, which said the military would be unable to sustain itself without additional resources or a reduced workload.

 

They were the basis for a story last year in Jane's Defence Weekly, the prestigious London-based magazine, which caused a furor in Canadian and NATO defence circles. Under the headline "Running on Empty," the story said the army, navy and air force did not receive the money they needed.

 

The article said the navy asked for an additional $50-million to bridge the funding gap, but received only $6.7-million. The air force expected a $104-million shortfall but received about $7-million. The army had a larger gap between what was expected of it and the funding available, and received $85-million in extra money.

 

Major-General Terry Hearn, the chief of finance for the Canadian Forces, acknowledged the military has had "issues" with funding over the past four years.

 

But he said the department is implementing a long-term plan to stabilize its finances. "We'll become sustainable over the next couple of years," he said. "We have long-term strategies to deal with these issues ... [but] we're not going to solve them next year."

 

Peter Stoffer, a New Democrat MP whose Nova Scotia riding includes a large military base, called the government's refusal to release the reports "very suspicious."

 

"If anyone out there honestly believes that access to information will be any easier under this government, they are fooling themselves," he said. "They say one thing and do another."

 

http://www.canada.com/national/nationalpos...86-e87fab611fbb

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Guest Moneyball

canada has an army?

774503[/snapback]

 

That's news to me also, and I lived in Canada! I thought the 'military' we had were the mountees alone. I thought our navy was mountees in canoes.\, eh.

 

But this is truely bad news, our enemies to the north and south are probably salivating at this news. I hope yoo Americans protect us if Greenland invades us, they truely want to take control of the Northern territories,eh. Alaska isn't a dear friend to us either. They seem to quiet, I fear one day they finally speak and speak with their great snow army yoo Americans don't seem to notice.

 

 

Beware Greenland and Alaska, eh!

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A U-boat crew landed on on the coast of Labrador and set up a weather station during world war II. It was the only recorded German landing on North American soil during the war.

774578[/snapback]

I may be wrong. I remember something about a German U-Boat of the coast of Florida and some of the crew had gone on shore...but like I said I could definately be wrong.

 

As far as Canada is concerned, they should be worried not from an outside force they should be worried about them damn French Canadiens. They have been wanting to secceed from Canada, now is their time.

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Guest Moneyball

A U-boat crew landed on on the coast of Labrador and set up a weather station during world war II.? It was the only recorded German landing on North American soil during the war.

774578[/snapback]

I may be wrong. I remember something about a German U-Boat of the coast of Florida and some of the crew had gone on shore...but like I said I could definately be wrong.

 

As far as Canada is concerned, they should be worried not from an outside force they should be worried about them damn French Canadiens. They have been wanting to secceed from Canada, now is their time.

774634[/snapback]

 

 

Yep I read something a while ago about the how the French Canadian movement to succeed is gaining momentum.

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yes, this is very true. The French speaking population in Canada, concentrated mainly in Quebec, is very interested in forming an independent state out of the province of Quebec. They fly that god damn flag like it's their version of the stars and bars.

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Guest Moneyball

Well, scrap the invasion of Iceland then. :(

775627[/snapback]

 

 

:(

 

I was lookin forward to seeing my country take over the vast snow resevoirs.

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Wow, I never even knew they had an army before. That's probably because they don't need their army as much as the U.S. does, and other nations, so they don't get publicized. Therefore, Canadian's (such as Moneyball) shouldn't be so depressed by this setback. Atleast their army isn't THAT big of a part of them.

 

My guess is that the goverment will not support them and provide the half a million dollars neccessary to continue their services. If their army would be a bigger part of their nation, and if their needs weren't so great, then the goverment would probably help give the neccessary needs, but that is not the case.

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I'm still baffled that they managed to bankrupt an army that's nevery used. One would think that that their military would have a surplus in cash.

775928[/snapback]

Well even though their army doesn't get used all that much, since a lot of money isn't neccessary for their army to give their services, they haven't collected or been supplied with money to continue.

 

When you have a very active army that is exteremely neccessary for the nation, then the goverment will make sure they obtain the proper resources. Even if their needs are great, they will get supplied with the needs because of the crucial role they play for their nation.

 

If the Canadian army was really important to Canada and was really needed, then the goverment would give it their all and assist them, and would not allow them to shutdown. And that goes for any army. Any amry that is really needed will never have to stop their services because of money problems, when they could get it from their goverment and then give the money back at a later time.

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