To-date Tom Mulcair and the New Democratic Party have not released a tangible defence policy. Generally acknowledged to be a party with pacifist attitudes, it is widely accepted that if the NDP is elected, Canada will pull out of missions in Iraq and Syria.
However, experts point out that this doesn’t mean the NDP won’t make provisions for an adequate CAF and budget accordingly. These provisions could almost certainly include cleaning up the procurement program. Many experts are turning to a report published by Dr. Michael Byers, Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia, for clues as to what the NDP’s stance might be. Byers ran for the NDP in the 2008 election.
“…Professor Byers thoughts might find their way into the NDP defence policy. We can’t say that definitively though…It’s [the report] fairly detailed. We don’t know how much of a link there is between what he wrote and what the NDP policy would look like but because he is interested in defence and previously ran for the NDP it’s probably safe to say it would be pretty similar,” said Martin Shadwick a defence analyst at York University.
The report suggests building up coastline surveillance and increasing search and rescue capabilities while making provisions, like an improved procurement plan, for the military to carry out missions when necessary.
If the NDP decides to pull out of missions like Iraq, it could possibly mean a cutback in the CAF. Dr. Stephen Saideman, the Paterson Chair in International Affairs at Carleton University, paints the following picture of what an NDP defence policy might look like, “Because we would not be deploying the Canadian Forces as often as previous Liberal and Conservative governments, we can and should cut the size of the Canadian Forces. The army should focus on supporting peacekeeping operations and not on participating in counter-insurgency campaigns. Thus, we would reduce the size of the Army significantly and put those savings into improving the ability to take care of Canadians via search and rescue capabilities.
“Given our focus on balancing the budget, we do not promise to spend much more on the Canadian Forces but to spend more wisely. We will clean up the procurement processes by having more competition. This means that we will make a decision on how to replace the CF-18s after a fair competition. In developing the requirements for this plane, we would focus on Canadian needs more and interoperability less as we expect to participate in fewer NATO bombing campaigns,” wrote Saideman.
One thing is sure with the NDP is their stance on the care and support for veterans. Recently, Mulcair revealed a plan to spend $454 million over the next four years to improve health care and services for veterans. He also pledged to reopen nine regional offices.
Mulcair’s announcement came at a Royal Canadian Legion branch in Nova Scotia and the riding for NDP candidate Peter Stoffer. Stoffer is known to speak out heavily in favour of veterans. Earlier this year he wrote a report entitled “Fair Treatment for Canada’s Canadian Forces and RCMP Veterans and their Families.” The report calls for improving the New Veteran’s Charter, increasing survivor pensions and benefits for spouses and looking into events such as the Chalk River plant clean-up and chemical spraying at CFB Gagetown.
Mulcair greatly emphasized restoring respect and dignity to the veterans of Canada.
“The women and men who stand up for this country should never have to question whether the prime minister will stand up for them too. Ask the young soldiers who gave their best years to serve this country in Afghanistan and suffered cruel injuries on the battle field. Today there are far too many injured and disabled Canadians and RCMP members who cannot access the health care they need,” said Mulcair.[poll id=”7″]