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Supporting international security and Canadian interests

By Jason Kenney, Minister of National Defence

Prime Minister Stephen Harper tours the CANSOF and Peshmerga Programme of Instruction (POI) in Iraq, May 2015. (Jason Ransom, PMO)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper tours the CANSOF and Peshmerga Programme of Instruction (POI) in Iraq, May 2015. (Jason Ransom, PMO)

The Conservative government maintains a robust defence policy based on the Canada First Defence Strategy (CFDS), which we first unveiled in 2008. Guided by that document, we are committed to defending Canadian sovereignty, providing our men and women in uniform with the equipment they need, and playing an active role in global security.


It takes a range of effective core capabilities to defend our vast land, airspace, and sea frontiers. The previous government permitted these capabilities to erode during the decade of darkness. However, our government has systematically reinvested to rebuild them. The measures we have taken to enhance Canada’s sovereignty include:

  • Establishing an Arctic Training Centre at Resolute, Nunavut;
  • Modernizing the Aurora patrol aircraft fleet and increasing the number of operational aircraft from 10 to 14;
  • Expanding the air transport fleet to move troops and supplies rapidly in response to emergencies. We have revolutionized Canada’s capability by acquiring five C-17 strategic transport planes, 17 C-130J tactical transport planes and, for the Army, 15 Chinook F-model heavy-lift helicopters;
  • Conducting six major exercises in the north annually;
  • Expanding the Canadian Rangers from 3,500 to 5,000 personnel;
  • Ordering up to six new Harry DeWolf-class Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships, with construction beginning this year and the first ship to be delivered in 2018;
  • Constructing a new naval refuelling facility at Nanisivik to support both the DeWolf-class ships and other Royal Canadian Navy and Coast Guard assets; and,
  • Launching the state of the art RADARSAT Constellation Mission surveillance satellite starting in 2018.

Our government has made significant investments in the Canadian Armed Forces since 2006. We have increased National Defence spending from $14.5 billion in 2005–06 to $20.1 billion in 2014–15 on a cash basis — a 38 per cent increase.

We’re also providing stable, inflation-protected funding for the military. Our latest federal budget boosts the built-in annual increases for baseline defence spending from 2 per cent to 3 per cent starting in 2017. That will add almost $12 billion to our defence budget.


Since taking office, we have modernized our armoured vehicles, tanks, patrol planes, and frigates. We have acquired new transport capabilities and begun to take possession of new maritime helicopters. And we have set out on a $36.6 billion shipbuilding program to provide our Navy with new surface combatants, supply ships, and Arctic patrol vessels. The procurement system has inherited many perennial problems from the past, but these are finally improving under this government.

In the end, though, money spent is not the only measure of a defence policy.

The real question is what results are achieved — something NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted when he said in Ottawa last March: “Canada is such a strong and committed ally and you provide substantial contributions to so many different NATO missions and operations.”

Canada’s global role

We have made investments in the military to address emerging security challenges. We are an active member of the global coalition to degrade the so-called Islamic State that has threatened Canada directly and inspired attacks on our own soil.

Canada has deployed a credible air strike package of CF-18s, Auroras and a Polaris air refueller to support the allied air campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Our Special Operations Forces are involved in Iraq to help train Kurdish forces as they face the Islamist threat. Thanks in part to these contributions to the allied effort, ISIS has lost control over approximately 25 per cent of the Iraqi territory it controlled in August 2014. We have also demonstrated leadership by extending air strikes against ISIS into eastern Syria, so that this hostile, genocidal pseudo-state can have no safe haven.

A second serious challenge is rooted in the Putin regime’s use of force to advance its destabilizing policy of aggression in Europe. The invasion of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea represent a fundamental break with the security arrangements which Russia negotiated after the Cold War. These actions constitute a security challenge that cannot be ignored or wished away.

That is why we have deployed an infantry company to support NATO operations in Eastern Europe; a modernized frigate to join patrols and exercises in the Black and Baltic Seas; have participated in Baltic air policing; and are dedicating staff officers to support NATO activities in Eastern Europe. It is also why Canada is deploying some 200 troops to help train and modernize the Ukrainian military to better confront Russian aggression.

A Conservative Government will continue to invest to improve the operational effectiveness of the Canadian military. We will continue to deploy our world-class military assets and personnel responsibly to support international security, and Canadian interests, around the world.