OTTAWA — New Democrats, if elected on Oct. 19, promise to maintain stable defence spending and equip the military to resume leadership in the United Nations peacekeeping, with an eye to making Canada the top troop contributor among western nations within a few years.
The pledge is one of the cornerstones of the party's defence policy, to be released Friday along with other elements of the platform.
There's also a pricey commitment to implement around-the-clock 30-minute response time for Canada's search-and-rescue squadrons, an idea the air force has long dismissed as too costly and labour-intensive.
NDP sources, speaking on background to The Canadian Press, say the intent would be to meet international standards with respect to response times, and ensure there is adequate coverage in the North.
As Tom Mulcair hinted earlier in the campaign, the NDP would not kill the controversial F-35 stealth fighter program outright, but would wait for the results of a comprehensive defence review mandated to report within a year.
The Liberals, who've promised to back out of the multi-billion dollar plan altogether, attacked Mulcair's response as a flip-flop, pointing out the NDP was — until recently — against the deal.
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In Photos: Canada Election 2015