While the deficits of the early 1990s provide a partial excuse, I think you would find bi-partisan support for the contention that the last several Liberal governments short-changed our military in the way of equipment and training. As a result, I think you could find bi-partisan support for the increased funding that the new Harper government has promised. Certainly, Harper has talked alot about showing respect to our fighting men and women, and certainly he seems to want to use them more frequently in a combat role. However, a couple of stories out today suggest that there is far less to the Tory budget in regards to military spending than has been advertised. From the Calgary Sun:
The Conservative defense budget looks a lot like the Liberal defense budget, analysts say - long on promises and short on delivery.
"I was quite disappointed with the budget," said Elinor Sloan, a Carleton University political science professor who follows defense issues.
"I thought that there would be more specifics. I also thought that there would be more money made available."
"The budget they announced sounds not unlike the budget the Liberals announced a year ago.
"If you take the five-year forecast, it's a big amount of money, but if you break it down to what the forces will see in the next couple of years, it's not very much."
Indeed, the budget contains only one-fifth of the spending promised, with the rest being contained in an "internal plan" that defense Minister Gordon O'Connor hasn't bothered to show the public yet. There are even rumors floating around that General Rick Hillier is deeply unhappy with the new Conservative proposals, and that he may resign in the near future.
Look, in this one area at least, many of the Conservative proposals made sense. For example, the arctic ice-caps are melting, will probably be gone in 50 years, and other circumpolar nations are already planning to exploit an ice-free polar passage. An arctic port and new ships will be (if they are not already) an absolute necessity if Canada wants to maintain and exert its sovereignty in Northern waters.
And, on the other hand, it wouldn't surprise me if end up fighting water wars with our Southern neighbors in a couple of decades.
Therefore the promises with regards to our military would be the worst ones that the new government could break. They would also turn Harper's much touted trip to Afghanistan into a sick joke. He should be given shit over this issue until he coughs up the appropriate sums.