UPDATE 1-Canada budget offers little new cash for extra security needs

Tue Apr 21, 2015 6:52pm EDT
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(Recasts, adds reaction)

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA, April 21 (Reuters) - Canada's Conservative government pledged little new immediate cash in its budget on Tuesday for security agencies already hard-pressed to cope with an increased focus on thwarting domestic attacks.

The government, seeking re-election this year, delivered a budget that promises a slim surplus despite the oil price crash, while offering goodies to seniors and reducing taxes for small businesses.

The killings of two uniformed soldiers by Muslim converts in separate attacks in Canada last October prompted the government to introduce a bill giving the Canadian Security Intelligence (CSIS) sweeping new powers.

The spy agency had already made clear it could not fulfill all its existing duties without more resources. At the same time, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said it too needed extra help to track terror suspects.

But Finance Minister Joe Oliver came up with just C$18 million in new money for counter-terrorism operations in 2015-16 and that must be shared between CSIS, the RCMP and the border services agency.

"For a government that has said (counter-terrorism) is a major concern, that might be considered a bit light," said Thomas Mulcair, leader of the official opposition New Democrats.

Wesley Wark, a University of Ottawa professor and one of Canada's leading security experts, was more direct, branding the C$18 million as "a pittance and a disgrace".   Continued...