2011 New Democratic Party election platform

Moderator’s Note:  This material is from a document entitled Practical First Steps For Leadership On The World Stage, which is available at this URL: http://www.ndp.ca/platform/leadership-on-world-stage]

Item 6.4 - Charting a New Course for Canada’s Defence

We will give the men and women of the Canadian Forces, who put their lives on the line every day, the best equipment to do the job with, proper support and benefits;

We will focus Canada’s military on three main priorities:
- defending Canada;
- providing support for peacemaking, peace-building and peacekeeping around the world; and
- assisting people facing natural catastrophes, including floods, earthquakes, forest fires and other emergencies, both at home and abroad;

We will ensure the Canadian Forces are properly staffed, equipped and trained to effectively address the full range of possible military operations arising from these three priorities;

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;

We will improve search and rescue capability to international standards within the current budgetary framework;

We will draft a Defence White Paper, redefining our military’s role, its priorities and needs, to be completed within 12 months. During that time, all major defence projects will be reviewed;

We will implement a fair and open process where competitors can offer industrial deals and benefits. Such an open process ensures Canadians get the best price, the military gets what it needs and Canadian industries get the best spin-offs;

We will review the proposed F-35 purchase as part of the Defence White Paper;

Within the existing budget, we will establish an annual fund for government shipbuilding. This would provide stability to the industry and include construction of new ships for the Navy and the Coast Guard.

Item 6.5 - Fulfilling Commitments to Honour our Veterans

We will respect Canada’s obligations to our military veterans by:
- Ending the unfair reduction of pensions for retired and disabled Canadian Forces and RCMP veterans;
- Stopping the unjust cuts to the Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP) for medically released members of the Canadian Forces and former RCMP members.  Ending these claw-backs will improve the lives of over 100,000 veterans in Canada;
- Overhauling the Veterans Review and Appeal Board; appointing its members from military, RCMP and medical personnel, and ensuring that veterans’ appeals are fairly reviewed by their peers;
- Introducing a “Helmets-to-Hardhats” program to help veterans transition to construction and shipbuilding trades;
- Responding to veterans’ organizations, spouses and widows, and others and initiating a public inquiry into toxic chemical defoliation at CFB Gagetown.

Additionally, from press a statement dated 8 April 2011:

Layton’s plan commits to defence spending levels outlined in Budget 2011.  Within the first year, Layton will table a Defence White Paper in Parliament that would refocus the Canadian Forces on its three primary roles:
- Defending Canada and protecting Canadians;
- Assisting people when disaster strikes, at home or abroad; and
- Supporting peacekeeping and peacebuilding around the world.

Layton’s plan will focus procurement priorities on the immediate needs of
Canada's naval forces. “For five years Stephen Harper has failed to procure the ships we need to patrol the world’s longest shoreline. Canada’s supply ships have reached the end of their operational lives. Instead of focusing on F-35 fighter jets, I’ll get the job done when it comes to building Joint Support Ships for our naval forces.”