12 May 2008
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister of National Defence and Minister of Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Peter MacKay today unveiled the Canada First Defence Strategy, the government’s comprehensive plan to ensure the Canadian Forces (CF) have the people, equipment, and support they need to meet the nation’s long-term domestic and international security challenges.
"If you want to be taken seriously in the world, you need the capacity to act - it’s that simple," said Prime Minister Harper. "The Canada First Defence Strategy will strengthen our sovereignty and security at home and bolster our ability to defend our values and interests abroad."
The Prime Minister noted that defending the country and protecting Canadians at home are the main priorities of the Canada First Defence Strategy. The other major priorities are meeting Canada’s responsibilities for continental defence and being a robust and reliable contributor to international security and humanitarian missions.
Minister MacKay provided details as to how the Canadian Forces will grow and evolve under the Canada First Defence Strategy. They include:
Expanding to 70,000 Regular Force and 30,000 Reserve Force;
Improving key CF infrastructure;
Increasing the overall readiness of the CF; and
Proceeding with the major combat fleet replacements of surface combat ships, maritime patrol craft, fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft, fighter aircraft, and land combat vehicles and systems.
"Beyond strengthening our security at home and abroad, the Canada First Defence Strategy will deliver significant economic benefits for tens of thousands of Canadians," said Prime Minister Harper. "Moreover, by investing in new military equipment and technologies, the Strategy will benefit Canada’s knowledge and technology industries, which will produce lucrative civilian commercial spin-offs," said Prime Minister Harper.
Today’s announcement complements the significant steps the government has already taken to strengthen the CF, including the procurement of new and upgraded equipment such as new strategic and tactical lift aircraft, joint support ships, armoured vehicles, helicopters, and Arctic/Offshore patrol ships.