Copeland: What will be the impact of the $1.1 billion cut to National Defence?

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2 April, 2012
By: Daryl Copeland

Former diplomat; research fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute

Canadian defense spending has been ramped up substantially in recent years, and the reductions announced in the recent budget must be evaluated in that context. Moreover, DND is a program-rich department, and as a result these cuts can be absorbed relatively easily, for example by trimming or extending procurement projects such as the (dubiously chosen) F-35 fighter aircraft.

DFAIT, by way of comparison, has been suffering budgetary shrinkage for years, and the additional $314.5 million to be cut by 2014-15 announced in the budget will hurt. In a department already slashed to the bone, this enormous 8.9% reduction will come mainly out of operating funds and will mean amputating body parts – missions abroad, properties, membership in international organizations, travel and representation.

Details have yet to be released, but jobs will be lost, and the diplomatic footprint reduced significantly.

For a foreign ministry intent on providing a credible alternative to the use of armed force as an international policy instrument, this amounts to a further diminished capacity to advance Canadian policies and interests.

Especially when considered in tandem with the reductions of $377 million being imposed upon CIDA, the budget represents a disaster for Canadian internationalism.

In all, more very bad news for a country whose role and place in the world is already in precipitous decline.

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