Louis Cuppens's picture
Canada remains a Defence Freeloader
Posted on Mar 15, 2022

The Western world watched in horror as Hitler’s forces vanquished under-resourced militaries.  The electors of that time were stunned that their politicians had eviscerated their militaries over time and without notice. Since the end of the “cold war”, Canada’s politicians have eviscerated our military through chronic under-funding and a host of human resources challenges, including recruiting and retention.

Canada’s military has not been a policy priority for successive Canadian governments.


With Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, most strategists consider that Russia will next invade the Baltic nations, and this would bring about World War Three. The notion that such a war could occur has been understood for decades, yet our nation choses neither to acknowledge it nor to prepare. NATO nations, including Canada, have been urged to spend a minimum of 2% of GDP on defence. Most have done so, some have exceeded, but Canada has not. Our expenditure remains 1.2-1.4% of GDP. While late indeed, Canada needs to step up and prepare our military NOW.

To be blunt, Canada’s military has no air defence capability to counter threats from helicopters, drones, and ballistic missiles. Canada’s navy has no replenishment vessels or arctic patrol vessels, though contracts have been let and construction is underway. Canada’s fighter jets are obsolete and no purchase of replacements is in sight. Our army’s combat arms (infantry, armour, artillery) have diminished in numbers to such an extent that to deploy one infantry battalion for combat operations, the other battalions needed to lend most of their personnel to the one deploying. There are shortages in combat protection equipments, clothing, and footwear.

The foregoing is a bleak picture – Canada’s military is not prepared for the inevitable. Now is the time to act.

Years of political defence complacency with a badly broken procurement system and the recent pandemic have worsened the under-resourcing of the military.

Canada needs to do its share in defending North America; we need to do our share in NATO; we need to participate in ballistic missile defence; we need to invest heavily in cybersecurity; and we need to meet our defence commitments.

Russia’s invasion is a loud signal that the days of our defence freeloading are over.  Our military personnel are among the best in the world, we need to properly equip them in a timely manner.

LWF Cuppens
Lieutenant-General (retired)