At a recent symposium hosted by the Canadian Global Affairs Institute former “Minister of Everything” John Manley and former federal Progressive Conservative minister and Quebec Liberal Premier Jean Charest waded into the Defence Review debate with some wise words.
Several media outlets have reported on the conference using a Canadian Press report by Murray Brewster which says that:
- Premier Charest noted that “Our defence situation is pitiful, especially if we compare ourselves to the rest of the world.” In Mr Brewster’s words, he “also warned that Canada could face increased pressure in the future because the shifting geo-political landscape;” and
- Minister Manley took aim at the review process, itself, noting that government reviews are often just an excuse for doing nothing and he said that they lead to “consultation constipation” and just provide an excuse for inactivity.
John Manley also noted that “when it comes to defence spending there has to be trust between those in uniform and the politicians who sign the cheques – something that is occasionally in short supply [and] the debate over the adequate level of defence spending should be subordinate to explaining how they are going to spend the money and what effect they hope to achieve.“
Minister Manley also picked up on a theme which I have been going on and on about: the Trudeau government is still in campaign mode and it prefers that to the hard business of governing. “Some of the current popularity is based on the fact that it has yet to make uncomfortable, unpopular decisions, said Manley.” Further, he is quoted as saying that “The government has thoroughly mastered ‘yes.’ They are really good at (saying) ‘yes,’ but governing is to choose and eventually you’ve got to say ‘no’ to somebody … Not everyone is going to approve of everything you do.” The problem with Sunny Ways is that
there might there will come a time, history teaches us this hard lesson, when the world gets in the way and Canada may have been rendered too weak to protect its vital interests. This has happened to us in the past; the price we paid to grow strong enough was frightful.
Premier Jean Charest and Minister John Manley and Premier Bob Rae, who also spoke in a similar vein at the symposium are serious people who have ‘followings’ in the Liberal Party of Canada. I sincerely hope their followers were listening and are, now, telling Team Trudeau …
.. to not “situate the appreciation,” (to force the review to reach foregone conclusion) but, rather, to take serious note of the current, and worsening global situation and make defence policies that prepare Canada to meet the challenges the world will present. I hope they pay special attention to Minister Manley’s remarks about the need for trust between the members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the politicians. I agree it is in short supply, and has been since about 2012, and the fault is on both sides.