Spies, Mounties and border agents receive a small increase in funding in the 2015 federal budget to prosecute Ottawa's expanding fight against terror threats, and the cash-strapped Canadian military is promised bigger bucks – but these will take years to materialize.
The Conservative government, which has made security and defence a core feature of its right-of-centre administration, found money in a lean budget to fund immediate concerns such as the combat mission against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria and an operation to train Ukrainian soldiers beset by Russia-backed rebels.
But Ottawa's big new pledge for defence spending – boosting the automatic annual budget increase for the Canadian Forces to 3 per cent from 2 per cent – will not amount to significant extra money for the military for about half a decade. "Government has no greater responsibility than protecting the lives of its people," Finance Minister Joe Oliver told the House of Commons on Tuesday. "The jihadist terrorists who proclaimed a so-called caliphate in the Middle East have declared war on Canada and Canadians by name. In response, we have taken up the fight both overseas and here at home."
The Department of National Defence took a big hit over the past few years as the Conservatives enacted a major restraint program so they could balance the budget as promised by 2015.
This new defence cash will not start flowing until the 2017-18 fiscal year – well after the federal election scheduled this fall – and will only begin with a modest injection of $184-million.
Analyst David Perry with the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute said the department suffered a $2.1-billion outright cut during the belt-tightening, as a well as a significant operating freeze and a postponement of capital-project spending that amounted to billions of dollars. "There's nothing until 2017-18 to address the austerity that was introduced," Mr. Perry said of the new budget.
It will take until 2021-22, six years from now, for the new military cash to surpass a billion dollars in additional annual funding.
Ottawa is boosting funding to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency by close to $300-million over five years to help them fight terrorism in the wake of two deadly attacks on Canadian soldiers and a gunman storming Centre Block on Parliament in October, 2014.
The budget of the tiny organization that keeps an eye on Canada's spy agency is being doubled in anticipation of legislation that will vastly expand the mandate of CSIS, enabling agents to take action to disrupt terror threats.
Operating funding for the Security and Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) will rise by $2.5-million a year to $5-million, the federal government announced Tuesday.
The Conservative government, meanwhile, is still resisting creating a civilian oversight mechanism to keep track of CSIS and other security agencies. Officials at SIRC have made it clear they do not oversee CSIS activities but rather provide after-the-fact reviews of the spy agency's operations.
Ottawa is also offering $3-million over two years, as well as radio frequency spectrum, to help create a new Public Safety Broadband Network that will allow first responders, including police, fire and ambulance services, to communicate easily with each other in an emergency.
Close to $100-million in funding is also being doled out to help protect Parliament and Canadian Forces bases from terrorist attacks – a consequence of the events of last October.