Defence minister

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan

The Liberals are the party people should vote for if they want a well-funded, globally engaged military, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says.

On a campaign swing through the Okanagan, Sajjan said Conservative claims to be strong supporters of the Armed Forces don’t match reality.

“It’s a false narrative the Conservatives talk about,” Sajjan said. “They talk a big game, but look at the facts.”

While in office, he said, the Conservatives cut $2 billion annually from military spending to try to achieve balanced federal budgets.

By contrast, Sajjan said, the Liberals have a plan to steadily increase the defence budget with built-in yearly adjustments. That would remove the annual uncertainty over military spending, he said.

The Liberal election platform on defence is largely a reaffirmation of a major policy announcement in 2017. That’s when the Liberals said they would increase the defence budget by 70% over a decade, to $32.7 billion.

The Liberals’ defence plan also calls for a slight increase in the number of troops, more financial assistance when military families have to relocate, and what Sajjan said would be swifter response to threats like cyberattacks.

“All Canadians have a place in their hearts for the men and women who serve this country,” said Sajjan.

Currently, the Canadian military is engaged in 18 operations around the world.

“Our military is working all over the world,” Sajjan said. “We’re back in peacekeeping.”

After a career in the military in which he rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel while serving three tours of duty in Afghanistan, Sajjan worked as a Vancouver police detective. He was elected Liberal MP for Vancouver South in 2015.

As with defence, the Conservatives mislead people by suggesting the Liberals are weak on crime, Sajjan said.

“We’re tough on crime, of course we are,” he said. “But we also focus on preventing crime from happening, for example by funding programs that keep kids from getting sucked into gangs.”