Canada's military readiness is suffering from a lack of investment and the federal government must ensure that desperately needed new money actually gets spent, experts in defence and procurement say.
"You can promise the moon and the stars. If you can't get the money out the door then it's of no value," said Andrew Leslie, a former Liberal MP and retired general.
Leslie told The House that the Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has failed to provide the leadership needed to break down bureaucratic barriers and push through major spending to revitalize the Canadian Forces.
The federal government is set to unveil its budget on April 7. One key question will be what changes it makes to military spending, especially in light of the war in Ukraine.
Canada spends $23.3 billion on the Department of National Defence, but Leslie said the department has a chronic problem with actually using the funds.
"Over the last seven years, the Armed Forces has been allocated roughly that amount but it hasn't been able to spend it all. And the blame for that lies squarely with the prime minister and the minister of finance," he said. Leslie, recruited in 2015 as a star candidate to write the Liberals' defence and foreign policy platform, is now disillusioned with the government procurement abilities.
According to Kim Richard Nossal, a procurement expert with Queen's University, the military is also suffering from difficulties with developing and maintaining expertise in procurement negotiations.
"One of the difficulties that Canada has been in is that that we have tended to purchase military equipment in a kind of boom and bust cycle," he said.
"And the difficulty with this boom and bust approach to purchasing equipment for our armed forces means that in those lean years, the individuals within the Department of National Defence who have expertise in negotiating procurement simply aren't there."