By: ANTHONY FUREY, POSTMEDIA NETWORK
Canada’s defence spending will double if Erin O’Toole becomes prime minister. The Conservative leadership candidate and Ontario MP has crafted a substantial defence policy paper that includes a commitment to increasing defence spending to 2% of GDP.
O’Toole, a former veterans affairs minister, says in a statement: “This plan will achieve that as quickly as possible through a responsible increase in expenditures to modernize the equipment needs of the Canadian Forces to ensure the capabilities required for Canada to contribute to domestic, continental and allied defence needs.”
Two per cent of GDP is the amount NATO members technically pledge to spend on defence. However only a handful of the 28 member countries actually fulfill their commitment. Canada currently spends around 1% of GDP on defence.
The policy paper is clearly designed to show O’Toole is serious about not only national defence but also key foreign affairs issues. “The security of Canada, its sovereignty and the safety of its citizens must be recognized as the first and most important responsibility of Government - and is even more so today than it has been for over a generation,” the statement notes. “Every day, we see the war against terrorism, Russian aggressiveness and Chinese geopolitical posturing in the news.”
O’Toole served in the Canadian Armed Forces for more than a decade before becoming a lawyer, entering the House of Commons in 2011.
Other measures O’Toole proposes in the paper include creating a Defence Procurement Agency with the aim of depoliticizing major equipment purchases; strengthening Arctic security measures; implementing new co-operation agreements with Israel and Ukraine; and creating a cyber warfare division within the Canadian Forces.
Tory candidates will square off once again on Tuesday at a French language debate, the third of four official debates, in Quebec City. The leadership vote will be held on May 27.