134. Canada First Defence Strategy

The Conservative Party believes that the purpose of Canada’s defence policy is to better defend the national interest – the security of the Canadian nation and the economic prosperity of the Canadian people – in accord with the values of Canadians. In all that we do in the area of defence policy, we will apply this basic measure of the national interest, and advance the “Canada First Defence Strategy” (CFDS).

We support the CFDS because:

i. CFDS clearly lays out the priority tasks for the armed forces; surveillance and control of Canadian territory and the protection of Canada and Canadians, a strong and reliable partnership with the US in the defence of North America; a strong leadership role in international security and stability operations ;

ii. CFDS is a 20-year strategy supported by assured long term funding to strengthen the four pillars of defence; personnel; equipment; readiness and infrastructure. The Strategy provides for a balanced increase in across these 4 pillars, including increasing the personnel strength of the CF and the replacement of all the major equipment systems with
new more capable platforms ;

iii. CFDS not only raises the strength of our armed forces but provides our soldiers, sailors and airmen with the best and most modern equipment to carry out the tasks assigned to them. The increase in personnel will reduce stress on soldiers and their families; increased funding for readiness means better and more focused training and the improvement in infrastructure will contribute to bettering the lifestyle of the military community ; and

iv. CFDS gives Canadian industry a unique opportunity, through predictable funding and timelines, to plan and prepare in the longer term for the development of equipment and systems to support our Armed Forces. The Strategy will help the Canadian defence industry maintain and build their lead in many areas of advanced technology while providing quality jobs for thousands of Canadians across the country.

We fully support the government’s prompt actions to fill some of the most pressing defence priorities: strategic and tactical airlift capability for operational and humanitarian relief tasks; the strengthening of Canada’s presence in the Arctic; and ensuring our deployed troops have the resources they need to establish security and to optimize their own protection.

We fully support the government’s renewal of a strong commitment to NORAD and the expanded cooperation with the US, through Canada Command, in the surveillance and control of our coasts and closer coordination of disaster response operations.

135. Veterans 

The Conservative Party believes the government should be committed to providing the best possible services and benefits for veterans and their families, in recognition of their service to Canada. We are also committed to keeping the memory of Canadian veterans’ achievements and sacrifices alive through the promotion of public awareness and memorials. 

We support the Veterans’ Bill of Rights to ensure that all disputes involving veterans are treated quickly, fairly and with the presumption in favour of the rights of the veteran. The Conservative Party regards this as an important component of the national commitment to treating our veterans with respect. 

We would immediately institute a complete overhaul of Veterans Affairs Canada bringing it online with the needs of today’s veterans of conflict and peacekeeping missions. This would include instituting a standard of delivery of services, i.e., reviews, payment of services and the like. 

We support the continuing reform of the Veterans Review and Appeals Board so that it can more effectively respond to the wishes of veterans. To this end, we will work to increase the number of military peers on that Board. 

We will continue to ensure veterans have the benefits and services they deserve after a life-time of dedication to their country.

We are committed to ensuring the veterans of Canada’s wars and peacekeeping operations receive their veterans’ benefits and health care in a timely fashion. 

We are committed to ensuring that Canada’s veterans’ hospital and various veterans’ wings in regular hospitals are in top working order. 

We would immediately extend Veterans Independence Program services to the widows of all Second World War and Korean War veterans regardless of when the Veteran died or how long they had been receiving the benefit before they passed away. 

We would examine measures to ensure that National military treasures are retained in Canada as a part of our Canadian heritage. 

136. Security 

The Conservative Party believes that Canada has a direct interest in a more stable and secure world. Our government must be positioned to deal with complex international security issues in order to protect our citizens and contribute to the broader responsibility.

We are committed to ensuring that better cooperation among Canada’s intelligence and security agencies to more effectively protect Canadians against internal and external security and economic threats in a changing and unstable global environment. Canada must not be a safe haven for international terrorist operatives. 

We believe the government should consider establishing a Canadian national intelligence agency to coordinate existing intelligence from all sources to provide the Prime Minister, senior ministers and officials with national intelligence information and assessments. The creation of a new Canadian national intelligence agency will be drawn from the Privy Council Office’s international assessment and security and intelligence secretariats.

We believe the government should examine the feasibility of establishing a committee of senior government and official opposition Members of Parliament (sworn to secrecy as required) to scrutinize and oversee the activities of the national intelligence agency, utilizing confidential and in-camera sessions as required, and also consider having the head of the national intelligence agency be confirmed by Parliament and appearing before the committee as required. 

In a post September 11th world, we believe government should continue to enhance the foreign intelligence gathering and analytical capacity of the CSIS, Department of National Defence, and Communications Security Establishment. 

We believe the government should continue to work with our North American partners to coordinate efforts on security for our collective personal safety and economic prosperity with particular emphasis on preservation of our Northern waters. 

The responsibilities for a revitalized Canadian Coast Guard should be part of the Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. As part of increasing marine security, the government should reinstitute the Ports Police as a unit of the RCMP, and increase surveillance on the coasts and the Great Lakes. 

We believe the government should remain committed to ensuring that agencies such as CSIS, RCMP, Canadian Border Services Agency and Coast Guard are properly resourced both in manpower and equipment. 

137. Military Reservists 

The Conservative Party recognizes the important contribution that military reservists make to Canadian security, and believes the government should be committed to supporting reservists deployed on missions or occupational training. When reservists are called to leave their homes and families to serve Canada, the least we can do is ensure that their civilian job is waiting for them when they return. 

We support obliging all federal departments, agencies and federally regulated corporations to guarantee that any employee, who temporarily leaves his or her non-military jobs to deploy on missions or on military training, will be guaranteed his or her non-military job upon returning from deployment or training. 

A Conservative Government will work with provincial and private-sector partners to ensure that all reserve personnel who work for any provincial government, provincial agency, or private sector entity will be guaranteed their non-military job upon returning from military deployment or military training.