Forces can't get new gear

Long-standing problems with Canada's military procurement system are threatening to undermine the Trudeau government's vaunted defence policy, warns a new report.

The study, published by the Canadian Global Affairs Institute this week, says the government is on track to spend billions less on new equipment this year than was promised in the Liberals' policy.

The main reason, says the report's author, defence analyst David Perry, isn't that the money isn't available; bottle necks in the procurement system have slowed progress on a variety of projects, meaning the money can't be spent.

That has been a recurring theme in military procurement for the past five years, as the actual amount of money spent on new equipment has steadily declined because of delays and other snarls in the system.

And while the Liberals' defence policy, released last June, promised to dramatically increase year-over-year spending on new equipment over the next decade, it did not include any major new measures to address those problems.

The short-term fear is that the military will have to wait longer than expected for new equipment; the bigger concern is that the Liberal government's ambitious plan to revitalize and expand the military won't materialize as promised.

The first year of the 20-year defence policy, entitled "Strong, Secure, Engaged," was supposed to see federal officials buy about $6-billion worth of new equipment for the Canadian Forces.

Perry, however, found that barring a major surprise in the last quarter of the federal government's fiscal year, officials will purchase between $3 billion and $4 billion in equipment.

"The first fiscal year of Strong, Secure, Engaged is already providing evidence that the policy's spending plans will not be achieved as outlined unless significant changes (to the procurement system) are made," he wrote.

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