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Canada Day

Happy Canada Day

In a recent article in the CanWest newspaper chain journalist David Pugliese reported that the “government's long-awaited defence strategy paper could be released as early as next month but there are growing concerns among some analysts and those in the military that it will fall far short on the money needed to prepare the Canadian Forces for the future.” The reason, Pugliese says, is that (according to defence experts he cites) while $30 Billion is needed fairly soon, to meet the defence commitments piled on the military over the past 20 years by a succession of Conservative, Liberal and Conservative governments, $20 Billion appears to be the government’s limit.


$20 Billion is a lot of money – more, Pugliese suggests than any government thinks it can get past Canadians.
The Ruxted Group thinks David Pugliese is correct: Canadians neither know nor care (nor do they want to know or care) how much money ‘their’ armed forces ‘need’ to do the jobs Canadians (through their elected representatives) have and continue to heap on the CF. They are ‘willing’ to give $20 Billion; no more.

Why not?

Canadians do not, really, ‘support the troops.’ They wish the ‘troops’ would just go away until they are needed to clear snow, fill sandbags and fight fires. Any large increase in defence spending, most Canadians appear to believe, must come at their, personal expense – at the cost of their ‘free’ Medicare or their ‘pogey.’ They cannot, it seems, believe that the Government of Canada could not find another $10 or $15 Billion from within its current the $175+ Billion it currently spends. The Ruxted Group believes that a handful of competent administrators (and the Government of Canada has plenty of them) and an even smaller handful of honest, courageous politicians (in short supply, we admit) could easily find the $20+ Billion DND needs soon (more than it appears than Canadians are willing to see allocated) and the many, many more billions DND will need by around 2025.

DND needs a series of big cash infusions, right now, to recruit and train thousands, even tens of thousands of additional CF members by about 2015. After that it needs a steady stream of smaller increases (but large enough to take account of defence related inflation plus a wee bit of real growth) for (and beyond) the next 15 years.

As Ruxted has said, a series of Liberal and Conservative governments imposed three decades of fiscal darkness on the CF in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s even as, during the ‘80s and ‘90s, those same governments added new, complex and dangerous tasks. Governments did not do this because they hate the military. They did it because Canadians told them to. Political parties, in and out of government, poll assiduously and deeply on almost every issue; defence and defence spending was polled half to death in those decades and, based on the result, the government cut and cut and cut again – because that’s what Canadians wanted.

Why this should be is an interesting question. Canadians know we live in an interconnected "Global" world. Canadians are aware that our current level of prosperity is driven by global trade and investment, and Canadians are willing to speak up on behalf of those less fortunate, as witnessed by the endless calls for Canada to "do something" to end the genocide in Dafur. But calling for action seems to be where it ends, a sad contrast to those Canadians who were willing to stand up and take action when needed in the past. Canada was a nation of action with determined and colourful characters working since the 1500's to carve a modern nation out of a hostile wilderness, protect their gains against predatory empires and ultimately band with other, like minded peoples to create the international order which supports our peace and prosperity today.

As we celebrate Canada Day we invite Canadians, all Canadians, to think of their country and its needs. One of those needs is a modest but effective and capable military: ships at sea, aircraft in the skies and army combat units ready and able to fight with the very best, anywhere in the world. If most Canadians are unwilling to pay the price, low though it is, then we invite them to be honest: write to your MP and the PM and say: “I don’t want armed forces; they are too expensive; bring them home and disband them; we’ll find others to shovel snow and fill sandbags and protect us from enemies – foreign and domestic."

It’s really simple, you see. If you want a useful military then you need to pay for it. If you don’t want to pay for it then you do not deserve it. You’ll know the price when, not if, the enemy comes for us.

Happy Canada Day, anyway.


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