Canadian Military Spending: How does the current level compare to historical levels?

Tasneem Jamal


Bill Robinson and Peter Ibbott

Working Paper 03-1

How much money should Canada spend on its military?

The answer to that question may seem straightforward: Canada should spend whatever is required to properly fund the military capabilities deemed necessary or desirable by the Canadian government and the Canadian people. However, this does not appear to be the case in practice. Rather, it is often the size of the budget that determines defence policy.

It is commonly believed that the current level of Canadian military spending is much lower than it has been in the past, that Canada has fallen behind its allies in providing funding for its military, and that the Canadian military no longer has the funds to respond adequately to the threats facing Canadian security.  This report compares the current level of Canadian military spending to historical levels, to allied spending and to potential threats affecting Canada. It does not seek to answer the question of what the appropriate level of military funding ought to be, but aims to place Canada’s current level of military spending in accurate context.

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