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Canada gets a military 'free ride': Clarke

Last Updated Tue, 27 Apr 2004 8:05:10

OTTAWA - Canada is a freeloader when it comes to military spending and should review its priorities, a former White House adviser said yesterday.

Richard Clarke

Richard Clarke, who served as an anti-terrorism adviser to presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, told a conference in Ottawa on Monday that Canada has neglected its military so long it should now think about scrapping part or all of its armed forces.

"Most people in the national security business in Washington think Canada is getting a free ride in terms of its military contribution," he said.

In his comments on Monday, Clarke went so far as to suggest Canada ought to consider scrapping its army, navy or air force – or even its armed forces altogether.

Clarke has raised hackles in Washington by criticizing Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq, and over his handling of the war on terrorism.

His arguments are contained in a book he recently published.

On Monday, he was critical of Canada's intelligence and security efforts.

"I think there's always been a perception for the last several years in the United States that Canada, while it is well-meaning, has not given the resources necessary to its law enforcement and intelligence agencies," he said.

On Tuesday, Ottawa hopes to ease some of those concerns in Washington with a new national security policy.

The government says the comprehensive long-term plan will improve security at Canada's ports, as well as laying out strategies to deal with public safety threats ranging from terrorism to severe acute respiratory syndrome to natural disasters.

Prime Minister Paul Martin travels to Washington on Friday to meet with Bush.

Written by CBC News Online staff

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