Skip to comments.Canada to U.S.: Mind your business (Jerk Alert)
Posted on 11/21/2002 2:02:50 PM PST by Recovering_Democrat
PRAGUE -- Defence Minister John McCallum bluntly told George W. Bush yesterday to stop lecturing Canada about increased defence spending after the U.S. president urged the federal government and the NATO allies to boost their military budgets to confront new international threats from terrorism and rogue states.
The Bush administration, particularly through Paul Cellucci, its ambassador to Canada, has been calling on Canada to increase defence spending and to purchase new heavy-lift aircraft so it does not have to rely on the U.S. to transport Canadian troops.
Mr. McCallum said yesterday he is fed up with the Americans hectoring Canada about its low defence expenditures, even though he himself has been publicly lobbying for greater military spending.
"I would not urge the president of the United States or the U.S. ambassador to Canada to do my job to ask for more defence spending. I think that is a Canadian matter," Mr. McCallum told reporters.
He added: "I think a number of Canadians were a little bit ticked off when the ambassador keeps pushing."
"It is a made-in-Canada decision, so while Mr. Bush may be asking for what I am asking for, I am not asking for his help."
On the eve of today's opening of the 19-member NATO summit in the Czech capital, Mr. Bush made an impassioned appeal for the western alliance to strengthen its military "to confront terror camps in remote regions or hidden laboratories of outlawed regimes."
Mr. Bush said NATO needs to develop new capabilities, including a 21,000-member rapid reaction force, more special forces, better precision weapons and more modern command structures if it is to win the war against global terrorism and rogue states, like Iraq.
The president did not directly name Canada, but it has the third-lowest military budget in the NATO alliance, spending more than only Luxembourg and Iceland, which does not have a military.
"NATO forces must be better able to fight side by side. Those forces must be more mobile and more swiftly deployed," he told the Atlantic Youth Council. "For some alliance members, this will require higher defence spending. For all of us, it will require more effective defence spending with each nation having the tools and technology to fight and win a new kind of war."
At a later news conference, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien would not comment on Mr. Bush's appeal, other than to say he would like to pump more money into the military, but the government has many other priorities.
"Me too, I would like to spend more money on defence. I'd like to spend more money on everything, but we have to make these decisions when come the budget," he said.
Earlier in the day, a senior Canadian official, who asked not to be identified, called Mr. Bush "a moron" because of his efforts to push the war against Iraq to the top of NATO's agenda. The summit was to focus on expansion and moderation of the alliance, but Mr. Bush has used his clout to make Iraq the dominant issue at the meeting.
NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson and the Liberal-dominated defence committees of the House of Commons and the Senate have all deplored Canada's $12-billion military budget, which represents only 1.1 per cent of gross domestic product spending, half the NATO average of 2.13.
But Canadian officials argued the "pure GDP numbers is a pretty crude indicator" of Canada's military capabilities, noting the Canadian military has played a role in almost every major United Nations or NATO operation from Bosnia to the war in Afghanistan.
Mr. Chrétien also picked up on that theme, saying the Americans appreciate the role that Canada has played in operations around the world.
"The Americans always compliment when we participate with them. When we were in Kosovo, we were the third country with the greatest number of sorties and we were complimented by everyone there by the effectiveness of our troops. We did the same thing in Bosnia. In Afghanistan, our troops did very well," he said.
Mr. Bush said NATO, devised as a static defence against the former Soviet Union, is outdated and its military forces are incapable of responding quickly to military threats outside Europe, such as Afghanistan.
"When forces were needed quickly to operate in Afghanistan, NATO's options were limited," he said.
"The allies need more special operations forces, better precision strike capabilities and more modern command structures. Few NATO members will have state-of-the-art capabilities in all of these areas, I recognize that, but every nation should develop some."
The Senate defence committee recently called for a $4-billion annual increase in the Armed Forces budget, while Liberal MPs on the Commons defence committee have urged the prime minister not to sacrifice Canada's military to fund a social agenda.
But officials close to Mr. Chrétien say he's reluctant to approve a substantial boost in spending for Canada's Armed Forces, preferring to pump money from the federal surplus into social programs and infrastructure improvements for cities.
Mr. McCallum has been seeking a modest increase in the defence budget of $1 billion and is prepared to find savings of up to $250 million from within the Defence department, sources say.
Since 1994, the government has reduced defence spending by 23 per cent and cut the Forces' regular personnel to 57,000 from 87,600 in 1990. Canada has the world's 54th-largest military and 77th-largest reserve force, even though it has the 34th-largest population and is a member of the Group of Seven industrialized nations.
A bevy of military analysts, most recently the Council on Canadian Security in the 21st Century and the Atlantic Institute, have also warned Canada is at risk of being unable to defend itself unless it increases spending. Military experts say Canada needs to double its equipment budget to $3.5 billion annually just to replace aging equipment.
Behind the scenes, Defence department officials readily acknowledge that military capability has suffered while other allies, in particular the United States, have made substantial improvements.
This man is an irresponsible clown who obviously doesn't recognize the need to beef up defense.
What's the problem here? George W. Bush is saying Canada needs to be better prepared?? This is what irks him? Please, Canadian conservatives, tell me you don't want him to remain in office.
Was last time i looked !
I'd take BC and Alberta too, but we'll have to expel the hop-heads and other weirdos from Vancouver, first. Going by the Albertans I know, Alberta would declare the annexation day a state holiday.