Ottawa ? Jay Hill, Senior National Defence Critic for the Official Opposition, said today that Paul Martin?s latest federal budget simply reaffirms his refusal to provide the financial investment needed for the Canadian Forces to meet even basic operational capabilities.
?Even I was surprised at how little the Canadian Forces has been given in Budget 2004. Paul Martin didn?t even address the $500-million budgetary shortfall the military faces this year,? stated Hill.
?The $300-million to help bankroll Canadian operations in Afghanistan and Haiti will barely meet the financial needs for those specific missions,? Hill pointed out. ?It does not respond to our military?s increasing inability to respond to future international and domestic crises.?
Hill cautioned that equipment initiatives listed in the budget are purchases already announced by the previous Chrétien administration. ?Read the fine print,? said Hill. ?The budget refers to non-budgetary resources, which is a fancy term for ?all talk?. There?s really no new money there for equipment. Budget 2004 has nothing to do with the SeaKing, Iltis and Leopard Tank replacements. And the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are so old news that many of them had already crashed in Afghanistan by late last year.?
Hill said he welcomes the tax break for Canadian soldiers serving in high-risk overseas missions. ?The Liberals? recognition of the contribution made by soldiers living and serving in very primitive and dangerous conditions is long overdue. Yet there?s no commitment to provide relief to our overstretched and exhausted troops,? said Hill. ?Despite a lack of human resources the government continues to deploy the Canadian Forces on more missions than ever before.?
Hill said his prediction that Paul Martin would use the need for a Defence Policy Review as an excuse for further Liberal inaction on funding the military has come true. ?This budget specifically refers to the need to hold off on new military investments until after review, which won?t really be underway until this Fall,? said Hill. ?The under-funding of Canada?s military must be rectified now! It?s tarnishing Canada?s relevance and credibility on the world stage!?