Vote Compass: Defence - The parties' positions

Here's how the parties' responded to three questions about defence in Vote Compass and what was behind their answers.

The scholars and political scientists who created Vote Compass for CBC News gave Canada's five political parties input to make sure the parties' policies lined up accurately with the way Vote Compass interprets respondents' answers.

First, all the parties had a chance to answer the Vote Compass questionnaire themselves. The parties also had the chance to challenge the scholars' assessments before the "final codes" went in.

Here are the party positions on three questions about defence in Vote Compass and what was behind those answers. We'll look at each of the 10 Vote Compass issues areas over the next two weeks.

1) All Canadian troops should be pulled out of Afghanistan immediately

  • Strongly agree 
  • Somewhat agree 
  • Neither agree nor disagree 
  • Somewhat disagree 
  • Strongly disagree 
  • Don’t know

New Democratic Party — Strongly agree

We will end Canada’s combat involvement in Afghanistan, and we will bring our troops home. In its place, we will commit to an on-going civilian development program focused on women, youth and children; regional diplomacy; the rule of law and human rights; institution building and humanitarian assistance. [p. 20]

Source: Giving Your Family a Break: Practical First Steps  (April 2011)

In 2006, New Democrat members from coast to coast to coast passed a resolution to bring our troops home. We said this was the wrong mission for Canada — the wrong way to bring stability to the people of Afghanistan. Five years later, our conviction is the same.[...] [D]evelopment workers on the ground are telling us is that the absence of troops helps account for their success. When they’re not tied to troops, they’re just not a target. They’re building goodwill instead.

Source: Canadian leadership: Beyond the military mission in Afghanistan (January 14, 2011)

Green Party — Somewhat agree

The Green Party does not consider NATO to be the appropriate force for security operations against an insurgency in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. Accordingly, we do not support further Canadian participation in the NATO-led mission to Afghanistan, but neither do we believe that all of our troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan. We support, as part of our withdrawal from the NATO mission, a continued small Canadian security presence, to further the development of the logistics support functions of the Afghan National Army, in order to accelerate their independent operational capacity. [p. 107]

Source: Vision Green 2011: Redesign Canada’s role in Afghanistan (April 2011)

Bloc Québécois — Neither agree nor disagree

Text not available in English

Le Bloc Québécois a toujours appuyé la mission militaire de l’OTAN en Afghanistan. Cependant, pour ce qui est de la mission canadienne, le Bloc Québécois s’est objecté deux fois à des prolongements. Nous estimons que le Canada a fait sa part d'efforts. Les députés du Bloc Québécois l’ont affirmé dans les associations internationales auxquelles ils participent. C’est pourquoi nous exigeons que la mission militaire en Afghanistan prenne fin lorsqu’elle arrivera à échéance en 2011.

Cela dit, nous croyons que le Canada doit poursuivre son aide au développement en Afghanistan en s’assurant notamment que l’aide octroyée soit plus transparente, mieux structurée et qu’elle respecte les priorités afghanes. De plus, le Canada doit accroître son travail diplomatique afin d’en arriver à une paix durable au sein du peuple afghan. Pour ce faire, il doit travailler en coopération avec les pays régionaux et poursuivre la négociation diplomatique avec les insurgés.

 Source : Proposition Principale 2011 (February 2011)

Liberal Party — Strongly disagree

The combat mission is ending in 2011. However, the basic objective will not be completed. The Afghan people will still not be fully able to govern themselves and maintain their own security. That is why the Liberal Party supports the 2011-2014 training mission, and continued development work. The purpose is to help the Afghan people build a better future for themselves. The post-combat presence for Canada must also include a substantive role in the diplomatic process and any political talks on Afghanistan’s future. A Liberal government will appoint a Special Envoy to the peace process for the region. [pp. 83-84]

Source: Your Family. Your Future. Your Canada.  (April 2011)

After the combat mission [in Afghanistan] ends by December 2011, a Liberal government will re-allocate that incremental spending in a balanced manner across the full spectrum of defence, development and diplomacy. [p. 22]

Canada should pursue a post-combat role, for a fixed period, based on training of police and military personnel in a staff college setting in Kabul, and civilian capacity-building in various areas of public administration vital to building stable, competent and transparent governance in Afghanistan. [p. 16]

Source: Canada in the World: A Global Networks Strategy  (June 2010)

Conservative Party — Strongly disagree

The combat mission [in Afghanistan] will end in 2011," [said The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs]. [...] After 2011, Canadian Forces personnel will be deployed as part of the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) to continue training Afghan National Security Forces in a non-combat role, until March 2014. Canada will provide up to 950 military trainers and support personnel.

Source:  Ministers Cannon, MacKay and Oda Announce Canada’s New Role in Afghanistan (Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, 16 November 2010)

2) Canada should increase its military presence in the Arctic

  • Strongly agree 
  • Somewhat agree 
  • Neither agree nor disagree 
  • Somewhat disagree 
  • Strongly disagree 
  • Don’t know

Liberal Party — Somewhat agree

A strong Canadian military must play an important role in the North, but as one element of a broader approach to leadership and partnership with Northerners, and our northern neighbours. [p. 79]

Source: Your Family. Your Future. Your Canada.  (April 2011)

We need a strong military to defend our sovereignty and to protect our citizens. But we also need Canadians digging wells and building schools, and Canadian diplomats working for peace and humanity’s interests.   An obvious example of where we need balance is in the Arctic. We need diplomacy in the Arctic, to protect our environment. We need development for Arctic peoples, to establish our presence. And we need defence capabilities, to assert our sovereignty.

Source: Rebuilding Canada’s Leadership on the World Stage (November 2, 2010)

Conservative Party — Somewhat agree

Stephen Harper’s Government has taken action on a number of fronts to strengthen our national sovereignty, including our sovereignty in the Arctic.

We are re-equipping the Canadian Armed Forces, and steadily implementing our Northern Strategy. But improvements are needed to strengthen Canada’s ability to patrol our coasts and to enforce our laws on Canadian waters. [p. 35]

Source: Here for Canada: Stephen Harper's Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth (April 8, 2011)

Conservatives believe that the integrity of Canada’s borders is the first and foremost responsibility of a national government. Our Conservative Government is committed to strongly asserting Canadian sovereignty throughout Canada’s Arctic.

[...] Countries around the globe are showing more interest in the Arctic and its rich resource potential. With new trade routes opening up, we must continue to promote Canada’s sovereignty while strengthening the safety and security of Canadians living in our High Arctic.

Source:Conservatives are Defending Canada's Northern Sovereignty (August 25, 2010)

New Democratic Party — Somewhat disagree

As the Premier of Northwest Territories has said there is a growing gap between what Northerners see as the best way to defend Arctic Sovereignty and what the Harper government thinks is best. Northerners need roads, affordable housing and a fair shake on funding from Ottawa, not warships" [said Northern Development and Sovereignty Critic Dennis Bevington (Western Arctic)]. 

At their policy convention in Halifax, party members passed key resolutions on Arctic sovereignty. Convention delegates called for investment in human capital and physical infrastructure in the North to guarantee Canada’s sovereignty over the region. New Democrats also committed to pushing the federal government for a financing formula with the three territories that uses the real cost of delivering programs and services to the region. 

Source: New Democrats listen to northerners on arctic sovereignty (August 15, 2009)

Green Party — Strongly disagree

Green Party MPs will [...] Recognize and respect that our Arctic sovereignty is already established through the presence of Canadians in the North, including the continuous use and occupation of Arctic lands and waters by indigenous peoples; Reinforce Canada's Arctic sovereignty through community infrastructure development, regional sustainability projects, northern research, northern culture, and other regional socio-economic activities rather than through military presence; Support training and equipping the Canadian Rangers, many of whom are Inuit and First Nations people who live in the North and are experienced survival experts on land and sea, to comprise the backbone of emergency support throughout the Arctic; Extend Canada’s sovereignty of Arctic sub-sea resources through a submission to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. [p. 59]

Source:Vision Green 2011: Arctic strategy (April 2011)

Bloc Québécois — Strongly disagree

Text not available in English

Le Bloc Québécois est en parfait désaccord avec l’approche militariste du gouvernement conservateur dans les territoires arctiques. Les membres de notre parti préconisent plutôt une approche de coopération internationale faisant une place importante aux communautés inuites. [p. 26] 

Source :  Proposition principale 2008

3) How much should the government spend on the military?

  • Much more 
  • Somewhat more 
  • About the same as now 
  • Somewhat less 
  • Much less
  • Don’t know

Conservative Party — Somewhat more

Stephen Harper’s Government has taken major steps forward to ensure the Canadian Armed Forces have the equipment they need to defend our country. We have invested in modern tanks, helicopters, and transport planes for the army; and we have established a National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, to re-equip the navy.   We have also committed to buying the next-generation fighter jet, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for our air force. [p. 34]

Source: Here for Canada: Stephen Harper's Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth  (April 8, 2011)

We are committed to a Canada First Defence Strategy that will provide predictable growth for Canada's defence budget, increase the size of our forces to 70,000 regular and 30,000 reserves. The Strategy will also invest $45 to $50 billion over the next 20 years in the purchase of major equipment, including replacements for our destroyers and frigates, maritime patrol, search and rescue, fighter aircraft and land vehicle fleets. [p. 29]

Source:The True North Strong and Free: Stephen Harper's Plan for Canadians (October 8, 2008) 

New Democratic Party — About the same as now

We will maintain the current planned levels of Defence spending commitments, and we will equip the Canadian military to resume leadership in United Nations peacekeeping operations, with major new missions reviewed and approved by the House of Commons. [p. 21]

Source: Giving Your Family a Break: Practical First Steps  (April 2011)

Green Party — Somewhat less

Reduce military spending to 2005 spending ratio and reorient to peacekeeping. [p. 11]

Source:Green Book 2011 (April 2011)

In the last 10 years we have seen a 50 per cent increase in military budgets up to a worldwide total of $1.5 trillion per year. This increase in military spending is a big part of the reason our deficits have grown; however, not one word was uttered about cutting military budgets as a means of reducing deficits. (Elizabeth May)

Source:Scant returns for G8/G20 Expense (June 29, 2010)

Liberal Party— Somewhat less

A Liberal government will immediately cancel the mismanaged $30 billion sole-source deal for F-35 stealth fighter jets, and save billions of dollars. [p. 85]   Source: Your Family. Your Future. Your Canada. (April 2011)   Once the combat mission in Afghanistan ends in 2011, we will redirect the incremental costs of the mission towards achieving a better balance between defence, diplomacy and development.

Source:Global Leadership (March 7, 2011)

Bloc Québécois — Much less

Text not available in English

Lorsque le gouvernement se sera doté d'une véritable politique étrangère et de défense, il devra effectuer les achats de matériel pour mettre en oeuvre cette politique. Qui plus est, le matériel militaire représente un marché important pour l’industrie aérospatiale; il s’agit de matériel de pointe, porteur de retombées technologiques très importantes. Conséquemment, le gouvernement devra s'assurer que le Québec obtienne sa juste par de ces achats.

En l’absence d’une véritable politique étrangère et de défense, le Bloc Québécois juge qu’il serait irresponsable que le gouvernement conservateur procède à ces achats militaires sans que les parlementaires aient pu en étudier les répercussions. C’est pourquoi le Bloc Québécois propose de procéder à l’examen approfondi en comité de tout achat militaire de plus de 100 millions de dollars. D’ici là, le gouvernement doit imposer un moratoire sur les achats militaires de plus de 100 millions de dollars.

Source :Au tour du Québec : budget fédéral 2011 (2 fevrier 2011)