Defence lobby (still) at odds with Canadian public

This letter was published in the Ottawa Citizen on August 11, 2008.

Senator Kenny’s report calling for massive increases to military spending is further evidence that committees and groups and that comprise the defence lobby are increasingly at odds with the Canadian public.

A government survey this year confirmed that Canadians want the budget to put the highest priority on promoting energy security, manufacturing jobs, healthcare and the environment. More military spending was the lowest priority.

The defence lobby’s growing frustration with the public was demonstrated last month when the president of the DND-funded think tank, the Conference of Defence Associations, said that reporters covering public opinion on defence issues “stick microphones under the noses of whatever slack-jawed gum-chewing vagrants they can find on the street.”

The truth is that even the military’s own figures show that defence spending has increased 30% since 2004 and we are the sixth highest spender in NATO, dollar for dollar. Where will it end?

Rather than bleating about the budget, Senator Kenny and others should spend more time focusing on solutions to the ever-worsening war in Afghanistan. Now that’s a priority that everyone shares.

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