Charest makes big commitments to Canadian Veterans and Defence

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April 4, 2022 – Halifax, Nova Scotia – Today, on the first day of his Nova Scotia tour, Jean Charest, Conservative Party of Canada Leadership Candidate, announced his ambitious commitments to strengthen Canada’s military defence capabilities and sovereignty in our North, improve workplace safeguards to protect the rights of women and LGBTQ+ personnel, and restore critical supports for Canadian veterans.

We were left unprepared to support Ukraine against Russia’s invasion. We also share an Arctic border with Russia. We must protect our sovereignty in the north.

Under the Trudeau government, Canada has been left out of important strategic defence agreements involving Australia, the UK, and the US to counter the disruption and increasing aggression from China.

The irresponsible delay on beginning procurement of the F-35 is just one of many examples of critical purchases of essential military equipment and materiel left in the hands of the Liberal Party putting politics ahead of properly equipping our troops. A Jean Charest government will ensure that our national defence comes first.

“Trudeau’s indifference and inaction in support of the Canadian Armed Forces has made it harder to retain qualified personnel, harder to recruit, tougher to train, and impossible for Canada to meet its obligations to its allies globally.  Our allies have taken notice and are choosing to leave us out of important security arrangements” said Jean Charest. “We cannot continue to assume that our allies and neighbours will safeguard our borders and security on our terms.  Canada must reassume control of these responsibilities.”

The current Trudeau government has also permitted a dysfunctional and unacceptable deterioration within the Canadian Armed Forces where female, minority, and LGBTQ+ have experienced systemic and unfair obstacles while participating in what should be  safe and merit-based environments across the Army, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Canadian Air Force.

Finally,  little has been achieved to meaningfully support veterans, and this government is not credible on improving benefits and supports for disabled and injured veterans despite broad promises in 2015 to do so.

Charest’s ambitious Veterans and Defence policy includes:

  • Introducing a Canadian Armed Forces Service Benefits Act and restoring the pre-2006 Pension Act Benefits System in collaboration with veterans advocates and associations. This thorough review with veterans will also keep modernized programs and services implemented since 2006 into the previous Pension Act framework a Charest government will re-establish.
  • Increasing our military spending to 2% of GDP and building up our strength to 75,000 Regular Force and 50,000 Reserve personnel and expanding the training system to get the CAF to that target
  • Fixing our procurement model and getting the right equipment to the right people
  • Making significant investments in Cyber Security and undertaking an integrated Foreign Policy and Defence Review
  • Accelerating and funding safeguards and due process within our Army, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Canadian Air Force to be safe and desired workplaces for female, minority, and LGBTQ+ personnel

Details of the policy are available in the accompanying backgrounder. For more news and information from the  Jean Charest’s campaign on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Contacts

Laurence Tôth, Press Secretary

581 305-4501

media@jeancharest.ca

 

CHAREST CAMPAIGN DEFENCE AND VETERANS’ POLICY ANNOUNCEMENT

BACKGROUNDER

Key Features of the policy announcement include:

  • Introducing a Canadian Armed Forces Service Benefits Act as a one-window portal to access important supports for those who have served
  • Bring back pre-2006 Pension Act benefits and supports for disabled and injured veterans along with integrating those programs and services introduced since that veterans want to see continued
  • Increasing our military spending to 2% of GDP as quickly as it can be responsibly done and building our regular force strength up to 75,000 personnel and Reserves to 50,000
  • Fixing our procurement model and getting the right equipment to the right people
  • Making significant investments in Cyber Security and undertaking an integrated Foreign Policy and Defence Review
  • Accelerating and funding safeguards and due process within our Army, Navy, and Air Force to be safe and desired workplaces for female and LGBTQ+ personnel

Restoring Respect for our Veterans

  • Restore Pension Act (pre-2006) benefits to ensure veterans in 2022 are looked after equal to or better than veterans of World War II, Korean War, and operations since. Veterans will finally have significant influence over the best framework to care for our disabled and injured warriors.
  • Establish a Canadian Armed Forces Service Benefits Act for all veterans with a minimum of five years Regular Force service or seven years Primary Reserve service to receive post-release entitlements and benefits to all eligible separate from any Pension Act regime awards. These benefits would include low-cost mortgages and loans for those looking to start or expand a business, education grants for those looking to retrain, and health benefits including significant mental health support.

Increasing Military Investments

  • Develop and properly support two military bases in the arctic, including a deepwater port.
  • Acquire surveillance drones for use in our north. These should be available quickly and ready for service in a short period of time.
  • Procure two armed icebreakers so that our northern waters are open to us year-round. We will also strengthen the armaments on our existing arctic patrol ships.
  • Work with our allies to modernize NORAD defensive and early warning systems.
  • Explore the procurement of an upgraded submarine fleet to patrol all three of our coasts.
  • Improve upon the National Shipbuilding Strategy to minimize delays and cost overruns while balancing the need for timely construction and Canada retaining strong local defence production capabilities.

Rebuilding Canadian Forces

  • Rebuild our regular force strength up to 75,000 personnel and Reserves to 50,000
  • Create a targeted program to encourage recently released Canadian Armed Forces personnel to consider re-engaging in the CAF due to their experience and based on current operational and strategic needs.
  • Introduce legislation that will require any university or college receiving federal funds cannot prevent military recruiters from recruiting on campus.

Fixing our broken procurement system

  • Introducing iron-clad penalties for non-performance or late delivery. A Charest government will align our procurement system to deliver ontime and on budget.
  • Ensuring a process that is merit-based, transparent, inclusive, open and competitive.
  • Ensuring that all major military purchases will be free of political interference to speed up the process.
  • Speeding up competitions to avoid costly delays that have plagued past processes.
  • Streamlining bureaucratic processes to accelerate purchases.
  • Making a single Minister responsible for the entire procurement process and ensuring that Minister sits on senior cabinet committees, recognizing the high priority that a Conservative government will place on properly equipping our forces.

Investing in Cyber Security

  • Make investment in our cyber security capabilities to ensure the Communications Security Establishment is prepared for the threats of the future by establishing a Canadian Cyber Command – a government branch entirely devoted to defending critical infrastructure (such as energy and transportation) against cyber espionage, intrusion, and attacks.

Protecting workplace safety and security for women, minorities, and LGBTQ+ personnel

  • Accelerate and fund meaningful safeguards and due process within our Army, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Canadian Air Force to be safe and desired workplaces for female, minority, and LGBTQ+ personnel.  Those who wish to serve must be able to do so with the confidence they will be respected and will excel based on merit and performance.