Election Defence Policies
There are lively ongoing discussions about the 2006 General Election on army.ca; members, like most Canadians, appear divided. Most are finding little to choose between the two major parties; neither has made defence a major issue; both are apparently using national security/national defence issues only for local advantage.
The Ruxted Group, which consists of serving and retired military members and some civilians with an abiding interest in military/defence matters, offers, here, some thoughts on defence policy for the parties’ use during the remainder of the campaign.
Canada is a rich, important, indeed powerful, trading nation with interests around the globe. Canadians want, need and deserve peace and prosperity – the two go together for trading nations. We want to be able to sell our goods and services around the world, without undue interference. To do that we need:
• Peace in our markets, around the world, so that others have the means and inclination to buy our goods and services; and
• Influence, a clear, respected, global voice, if you will, so that we can trade freely and fairly – so that other nations will not restrict our merchants’ access to markets.
Both those things require that Canada, and the other rich, important, powerful, trading nations (almost all of which are members (with Canada) of the OECD), keep the peace around the world. It will be an ever imperfect peace and its maintenance will require constant vigilance and action – often military action, but keeping the peace (as opposed to the traditional Canadian ‘peacekeeping’ so much loved by the political left) is an essential, global task in which Canada can and should lead. This calls up a requirement for globally deployable, flexible, robust, balanced and joint naval and military forces which can interoperate with key allies – especially the nations of the so-called Anglosphere.
Canadians also need security here at home. Our own modern history shows us that we are not immune to violent outbursts when the social fabric of our peaceable kingdom tears. Sometimes these outbursts are too much for our civil authorities to contain. The essence of sovereignty, the very root of it is that Canadians can elect their own governments and make their own laws – a gang of gun-toting thugs must never, ever be allowed to deprive Canadians of that absolutely fundamental right. When the local and national police cannot defend the laws and rights of Canada and Canadians then Canada must have military forces which, no matter what the threat, can secure Canada for Canadians.
In our view our defence policy should state three broad requirements:
1. Maintaining, against all threats, foreign and domestic, our national sovereignty;
2. Securing and defending our shared continent – in co-operation with our good neighbour and traditional best friend the United States; and
3. Protecting and promoting our vital interests around the globe – using military force when necessary.
A proud, peaceable, prosperous Canada wants to and should be able to play a leading role in world affairs. Canada is not a great power, not, as some here in Army.ca, have said, in the major leagues. It is, rather, a nation akin to a Triple A baseball club – and it needs a Tripe A military, one which is:
Appropriate to one of the world’s top ten or so nations – a once and future leader of the middle powers;
Adaptable to an ever changing global situation – able to e.g. fight the 3 Block War, simultaneously fight mid-intensity combat, keep the peace in a hostile environment and help the less fortunate to rebuild their lives, all in one place and with constantly interchanging situations; and
Available whenever and wherever needed – this implies depth in transport/lift and logistics support.
There is a fourth ‘A’ which must be considered, too: Affordability. Whichever government takes power later this month must find a way to balance the wants and needs of Canadians with the (too often unpopular) requirement to rebuild and maintain those Triple A armed forces.
The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces are key tools for protecting and advancing Canada’s vital interests at home and abroad. The government must advance an agenda of respect for the Canadian Forces (and the entire defence team) – the institutions and the people in them. Canadians will, if they understand what their forces are doing for the country, support appropriate, necessary military spending. Governments which nurture and foster such respect need not fear the wrath of the electorate when they spend on the military, and much, much more spending (beyond the few billions announced by the current government) will be necessary to rebuild and maintain the forces and security/defence infrastructure Canada needs.
The Ruxted Group does not expect or even ask that politicians make defence a major election issue; we do ask that when the topic comes up they treat the Defence of Canada and the Defenders of Canada with the respect they deserve and we look forward to the release, from all parties, of detailed coherent defence platforms that address the issues we are raising here.
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