The defence review

Two articles caught my eye in the media:

First: on the CBC News website, Terry Milewski says that the Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, is doing “exactly what the late Jim Flaherty did for the Tories when he had the job. Like Flaherty in 2012 and again in 2014, Morneau has now punted the budget for defence procurement down the road.” But, says, Mr Milewski, we should “Fear not! We’re still planning to buy lots of ships and fighter planes. You just won’t find the billions to pay for them in the budget.

Like the Conservatives before them, the Liberals promise that the government will “have the funds available at the time when they [the Canadian Armed Forces] need those funds,” because they have “moved” the money away, in time, so that it doesn’t look so bad when naive analysts calculate the deficits.

Second: in the Ottawa Citizen, retired soldier and current scholar (Queens University) Chris Kilford takes a look ahead at the Justin Trudeau defence review in light of the Pierre Trudeau defence review of 45 years ago.

He suspects that the two will have similar results: a severely weakened Canada. “Canada is likely to end up with a much smaller, less responsive military than we have today,” he says, “largely focused on the home-front and the occasional, symbolic assignment abroad. Major capabilities will wither or disappear.  More importantly, so will our future policy options.

One difference which Dr (formerly Colonel) Kilford neglects to mention is that while, as he says, Justin Trudeau’s government “appears to be in favour of a more robust and active foreign policy,” and is, therefore acting against its own stated programme, Pierre Trudeau, back in 1969/70, explicitly stated that he wanted a much less “robust and active” foreign policy and he wanted negligible military forces to give it weight. Pierre Trudeau was, at least, honest in his intentions, even if those intentions were to emasculate Canada.

Slide1Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is, in other words, showing us two faces: signalling, on the one hand, that he wants to slow and even stop the modernization of the Canadian Armed Forces, even as he pledges, on the other hand, to engage the world even more fully than did Prime Minister Harper. I think we should be charitable and conclude that he simply doesn’t understand much of anything about governing (leading) a G7 country in a dangerous world and he actually believes a lot of the Sunny Ways rubbish that he and his campaign team peddled during the election campaign. I don’t believe that M. Trudeau is dishonest … just naive, and a captive of a world view that is almost completely disconnected from reality.

I suggested, a few weeks ago, how Minister Harjit Sajjan might approach a situation in which he would be forced to cut, not rebuild the Canadian Armed Forces … a thankless task, I called it. My suggestions involved, first, saving the Navy by building some ships and saving the forces necessary for the defence of North America.

I have to wonder, out loud, how Prime Minister Trudeau’s programme is going down with ministers and party leaders who made promises about e.g. shipbuilding to help earn the Liberals a sweep of Atlantic Canada and with those who really know something about how much the Canadian military needs just to keep its head above water …

… are those good men (and I affirm that I believe they are good men), I ask myself, really, honestly comfortable with Team Trudeau?

Published by Ted Campbell

Old, retired Canadian soldier, Conservative ~ socially moderate, but a fiscal hawk. A husband, father and grandfather. Published material is posted under the "Fair Dealing" provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act for the purposes of research, private study and education.

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