Madam Speaker, back in December, I asked the government about its approach with respect to our armed forces, particularly with respect to so-called peace operations.
The government said upfront that it wanted to commit our Canadian troops to peacekeeping, peace operations somewhere, without articulating what the Canadian national interest was in this case and what impact we might have in that situation.
In the question that I asked previously, I particularly highlighted the fact that Canadian troops may find themselves, in some of the different conflicts contemplated, in a situation where they are confronting child soldiers. This is one of many questions either the government clearly has not thought through or has not developed a plan on, in the midst of desperately wanting to move forward in these so-called peace operations.
Many of the places where the government has contemplated sending our soldiers are not traditional peacekeeping operations as many people think of them. They are actually quite dangerous. There is real risk to our soldiers there, and there is no clear articulation of what our strategic interest would be.
Since I have asked that question, we have seen further just how much the government lacks a plan with respect to our military and how much it is willing to undermine the support that the government provides to the military, at the same time as seemingly expecting it to be able to do more. Of course, all of us in this House recognize how capable and how accomplished our armed forces are, but we also have to support them. We have to put our money where our mouth is. We cannot keep talking about capabilities while withdrawing support. We have to recognize the capabilities of our soldiers while properly supporting them as well.
While we hear the government talking about many different possible commitments of Canadian troops, they are facing the substantial cuts that come with budget 2017. In this last budget, the Liberals cut $8.48 billion, which had been earmarked for military equipment purchases. That, combined with last year's cuts from the first Liberal budget, means that our military faces a shortfall of $12 billion.
This is at a time when there are increasing risks in the world. We only need to think about events of the last week in Syria. We see that there is an escalating threat level in terms of the kinds of conflicts that are happening, things that clearly challenge us in terms of fundamental human rights but that also deal with Canada's strategic interests.
We have challenges in Ukraine and eastern Europe, with the threats presented by Russia. We have the situation in Syria where Bashar Al-Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, is threatening the lives of his own civilians. His policies have implications for global security.
There are a number of these different cases around the word which illustrate the need for Canadian vigilance and proper support for our Canadian soldiers. Instead, unfortunately, the Liberals are doing two things. Number one, they are cutting back our support for our military. Number two, they are simply looking for military proposals that would help with Canada's bid at the UN Security Council. That is why they are looking for some kind of peace accord operation. It is not about Canada's interest; it is about winning friends at the United Nations.
The focus should be on advancing Canada's national interest and supporting our soldiers in the process. I challenge the parliamentary secretary and the government to consider a new approach that actually supports our military and considers Canada's national interest.