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New report questions high financial and political costs of post-9/11 security

The Rideau Institute released a report today–The Cost of 9/11: Tracking the Creation of a National Security Establishment in Canada–that asks hard questions about where deep integration with the U.S. security establishment has taken us, and whether it’s been worth the cost.

“Canada has devoted an additional $92 billion ($69 billion inflation-adjusted) to national security spending over and above the amount it would have spent had budgets remained in line with pre-9/11 levels,” says the report by David Macdonald, economist and President of economic consulting firm Embryonic. Military exercises have doubled and security programs trippled in spending since then. The effect, writes Macdonald, has been structural and closely related to Canada’s foreign affairs and trade agendas.

“Foreign affairs, which had become dominated by its trade promotion branch during the 1990s, took on increased importance in understanding and identifying potential foreign security threats. As well, the justice system in Canada gained a renewed focus as significant additional resources were expended in discovering and apprehending potential terrorists and terrorist networks,” says the report.

“The result of these increases in resources for the defence, international, security and justice areas of the federal government has been the creation of a ‘national security establishment.'”

Macdonald outlines the history of the development of this national security establishment, and its financial and political costs for Canada. He concludes, “The real question today is whether or not we should continue this level of expenditure. Should Canada spend another $100 billion or more over the coming decade on a national security establishment?”

The question is fundamental to whether Canada should be pursuing even closer security and military integration with the United States through Harper’s proposed perimeter security agreement.