Source: X

Canada’s top soldier is warning that commitments to defence spending are not happening “fast enough” for the global threats that the country is facing. 

Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre told Global News host Mercedes Stephenson that while he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the Canadian Armed Forces being on the “upswing” with defence spending, there is still a long way to go in terms of recruitments and national security. 

“There still remains lots of work to do,” said Eyre.

Foreign interference and domestic extremists were among the threats Eyre said Canada is up against, as well as technological advancements by Russian and Chinese forces. 

According to Eyre, the time for Canadians to remain “naive” about these threats is over. 

“We’ve been relatively isolated here, thankfully, in this country — (we’re) protected by three oceans and a superpower to the south,” he said. “Well, security is becoming global. We live in a globally-integrated threat environment, and we need to be prepared for it.”

Eyre warned of attempts already made by hostile foreign states, most notably China, to recruit current and former CAF members to gain information that would leave the country vulnerable.  

China has been “aggressively” targeting western military personnel to help train fighter jet pilots in its People’s Liberation Army, according to Five Eyes intelligence. 

The House of Commons passed new legislation last week to add military intelligence to the list of classified information that is illegal to share with foreign state actors. 

“We know we’re a target,” said Eyre. “We know our members have some coveted information, skills, experience. And so it’s something we have to be very much on the lookout for.

“This is real. The threat is real,” he added. 

Eyre described his view of Canada’s military to be “a history of unpreparedness,” after 40 years of service. 

He said that Canada would have to “scramble” in rising to the occasion of these threats. 

He believes this is part of the prolonged period of peace Canada has been able to enjoy, saying that from 1998 to 2020 the country hasn’t felt pressure to compete with other powers.

“Well, history is back, and we need to take a long-term view of history and have that sense of tragedy that goes along with it,” he said in the Global interview.

“History has not been kind to many countries over the arc of conflict.”

Eyre would not comment on whether or not he thought the Trudeau government was prepared for these renewed threats. 

“That’s not my place to say,” he said.

Eyre said he’s warned the government that it must increase the CAF’s readiness before 2030, as China and Russia both continue to build up their military forces. 

“We need to, as our top national security objective, avoid great power war,” he said.

“That’s best done through the ability to collectively deter adventurism, expansionism, imperialism. And so that is the endpoint that we are looking at internal to the Canadian Armed Forces: everything we can do to build up our deterrence … by that time.”

He said that pursuing NATO targets will give Canada a collective advantage but that if Canada continues to fail in meeting its required spending of 2% of its GDP, the United States will further grow angry and the country will lose its credibility on the world stage. 

“We need to ensure that we maintain our influence, our credibility with that group, continue to cooperate, continue to be able to interoperate around the world with our closest allies,” said Eyre.