OTTAWA — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is dismissing suggestions the federal government is planning to take an axe to military spending as it seeks to get the federal deficit under control during COVID-19.
Sajjan made the comments in an interview with The Canadian Press amid fears the Liberals will look to the defence budget to rein in what is now projected to be a $343-billion deficit due to the pandemic.
The fears are based on past feel: the Canadian Armed Forces was previously hit by deep cuts when Ottawa struggled to balance the books in both the 1990s and early 2010s.
But Sajjan says the government has no intention of abandoning its plan to spend tens of billions of dollars on new military equipment and troops over the next 20 years.
Rather, he says the pandemic as well as the growing number of natural disasters in Canada and instability abroad underscore the need for a strong military.
At the same time, he says every dollar spent on defence helps the country's economy — and that the government has actually been looking for ways to speed up military spending during the pandemic.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2020.