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Defending Canada’s Borders & Democracy
New threats are emerging that are challenging Canada’s sovereignty. During my time as Canada’s longest serving wartime defence minister and as minister of foreign affairs I stood up for Canada without hesitation.
While diplomacy and dialogue are important tools, they are frequently exploited by authoritarian leaders in Moscow, Beijing and Pyongyang who seek to manipulate what they see as weaknesses in western governments.
Over the past five years, the Trudeau government has failed to recognize or address these threats. I believe Canada needs a robust and modern defence strategy that acknowledges evolving geopolitical realities that affect our borders, our alliances, and our democracy.
My defence policy has four pillars
- Protect the Arctic and enhance continental security
- Equip a modern Canadian military while investing in our economy
- Support our troops
- Work with our allies
To succeed in each area, we need to bolster our investment in national defence to meet the NATO spending target of 2% of GDP. Out of 28 countries we currently rank number 20 on spending and number 25 on equipment.
1. Protect the Arctic and Enhance Continental Security
Russia’s rapid militarization of the Arctic region has rolled forward unchallenged. China has targeted the Arctic as part of their “Belt and Road Initiative” with the “Arctic Silk Road” policy and Huawei’s “Arctic Connect” project. As Prime Minister, I will assert our sovereignty and increase our presence and surveillance in the Arctic by:
- Enhancing our icebreaker, air and submarine capacity, especially over and under the Northwest Passage.
- Developing a long-term plan for a port community and military base at Churchill, Manitoba.
- Expanding our research on issues unique to the northern climate.
- Support the 5,000 plus Canadian Rangers and Junior Rangers who reinforce our core military presence in Northern communities.
- Strengthen our presence at the Arctic Council, the UN, NATO and NORAD in asserting our Arctic sovereignty claims.
- Modernize NORAD and join the North American ballistic missile defence shield to enhance continental security in air, space and maritime domains.
- Create a NATO Centre of Excellence for Arctic Defence at the Resolute Bay CAF Training Centre to enhance cooperation and interoperability with allies in partnership with the NATO Centre of Excellence for Cold Weather Operations in Norway.
- Upgrade and expand the North Warning System (NWS) to detect drones and hypersonic weapons in addition to conventional weapons.
- Refurbish and expand our RCAF Forward Operation Locations (FOL) and where possible allow civil airport authorities to co-locate and utilize runways and infrastructure.
2. Equip A Modern Canadian Military While Investing in our Economy
The heart and soul of the Canadian Armed Forces are the brave women and men who defend our nation. They deserve to be equipped with the best tools available to help them protect Canada and our allies. Additionally, as Canada recovers from the COVID-19 crisis, defence procurement can be used as a tool to enhance our economic recovery. To do that, as Prime Minister I will:
- Invest to secure the continental border in collaboration with the United States, including increasing domain awareness [air, water, space] and partnering together on Arctic sovereignty and military cooperation.
- Ensure direct military spending increases the return on investment to Canada’s defence and technology industries and that we receive our fair share of industrial technical benefits and procurement.
- Remain committed to the National Shipbuilding Strategy by proceeding with the construction of the Canadian Surface Combatants, icebreakers, Joint Supply Ships, and Coast Guard vessels.
3. Support our Troops
Veterans and their families have always been there for us in our time of need at home and abroad. Canadians must stand up for them in their time of need. I reject Justin Trudeau’s belief that our Veterans and their families are “asking for too much”, or it is “more than the government can afford”. Our Veterans should not be asked to fight in another battle — this time with government officials or the courts on home soil — over support to which they are entitled. In a Conservative government that I lead, we will engage, listen, respond and deliver.
One lesson learned during the COVID-19 crisis is that Canada needs to increase its force strength. Not only do we need to be able to defend Canada and deploy for oversea operations, we need to respond domestically at times of crisis. We must recruit, train and retain more of our troops. I will empower the Canadian Armed Forces to:
- Increase the troop strength of the Canadian Army Reserves, Royal Canadian Navy Reserves and Canadian Rangers by at least 25%.
- Pay off student loans for recruits from universities and colleges after a minimum of five years of full-time military service.
- Increase the mandatory retirement age in the CAF from 60 to 65 years old, thus retaining more expertise and enhancing training capabilities.
- Attract the best personnel to CAF Cyber Command by using the combination of a modified enrollment strategy and signing bonuses so it can be fully staffed to defend Canada from cyber attacks.
- Enhance the participation of women, indigenous and visible minorities through pro-active, targeted recruitment at the community level.
- Retrain service personnel who have been injured in the line of duty when possible, rather than release them for not meeting the universality of service doctrine.
- Have CAF determine injuries attributable to service when troops are being medically released and then accepted by VAC for the purpose of calculating veterans’ benefits and privileges.
- Retain medically released members until such time all the benefits and services from the Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans Affairs Canada, and Service Income Security Insurance Plan have been confirmed and put in place.
4. Work with Our Allies
Canada has the distinct position of being a member of the most exclusive defence and security alliances in the world – NORAD, NATO, and the Five Eyes. Collectively, the defence capabilities of Canada and our allies is the best deterrence from potential threats. But Canada must do our fair share.
NORAD is the most important partnership guaranteeing our Arctic sovereignty and continental security. I will not only work with the United States to modernize NORAD, but will begin the dialogue of Canada’s participation in the North American BMD program.
Rising tensions in the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait and on the Korean Peninsula, means Canada needs a new approach to the Indo-Pacific region. I will expand Canada’s military and strategic cooperation with the United States, Japan, Australia and India by joining the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD Group) as well as working more closely with South Korea and Taiwan.
As a member of NATO, Canada’s borders extend from the Pacific to Europe's frontier with Russia. As Prime Minister I will renew Canada’s commitment to NATO by:
- Expanding Canada’s contribution to NATO Baltic Sea Air Policing and NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Latvia which are critically important to maintaining peace in the Baltic region and Central and Eastern Europe.
- Continuing to support and expand Operation UNIFIER, Canada’s military training and capacity-building mission in Ukraine, by also supplying Ukraine with lethal weapons and reinstating the provision of RadarSat imagery.
- Ensuring active Canadian participation and leadership in NATO training missions and NATO Centers of Excellence in the areas of Cybersecurity, Health Security, Strategic Communications and Energy Security.
Canada’s intelligence agencies - CSIS, CSE, CFINTCOM, and RCMP, must be fully interoperable with our Five Eyes partners. The Conservative government I lead will:
- Engage in closer collaboration with our partners to coordinate efforts to monitor, identify and expose foreign disinformation attacks and influence operations.
- Ban Huawei from building or accessing our 5G and future critical networks
- Fully implement Bill C-59 in order to give Canadian security agencies such as CSE and CSIS, the means to actively defend against digital interference by having the capability to strike back against attackers.