By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday September 3, 2014
Despite tough talk, Canadian Forces are badly under-funded
Is Russian president Vladimir Putin a bad, bad man? We think probably he is. Do the butchers of the Islamic State, now running amok in Iraq and Syria, pose a clear and present danger to Western civilization? It seems so.
Therefore it’s good, we can agree, that this country’s prime minister and foreign minister, Stephen Harper and John Baird, can get their Winston Churchill on now and then. Harper and Baird’s denunciations of Putin’s reckless invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign country that had not fired so much as a rubber band towards Russia, have been refreshingly blunt.
Oh – except for our military, which, according to reporting by the Canadian Press’s Murray Brewster, is about to have another $2.7-billion lopped off its annual budget. Awkward. Postmedia’s Matthew Fisher reports that Ottawa is under pressure from North Atlantic Treaty Organization members to spend more, not less, as Harper heads to Wales for a NATO summit. Might someone at this confab publicly suggest that, when it comes to smiting evil, Canada is mostly bluster?
This is in no way intended as a slight against the Canadian Forces, whose members have displayed such skill, courage and simple good humour, in so many foreign engagements. No one who travels with the CF, or watches them work, can fail to appreciate their worth. The same very high standards, I observed recently, are exemplified by the Canadian Coast Guard. Thank goodness for them.
But the simple truth is that Canada’s military is badly under-resourced, given the range of emerging global threats, and the United States’ continuing withdrawal from its long-standing role as global policeman. Setting aside a sharp increase in defence spending between 2002 and 2010, the pattern has been for Ottawa to use the CF as a kind of piggy bank. When money is tight, it can safely be lopped out of the defence budget, because a) soldiers, sailors and airmen and women can’t complain too bitterly and b) the defence of North America is essentially an American responsibility. Right?
The Jean Chretien-Paul Martin Liberals famously balanced the federal budget on the backs of the CF during its so-called “decade of darkness,” in the 1990s. Those cuts were so severe that on some bases, according to soldiers I have spoken to, every second light bulb was unscrewed to save power. The Airborne Regiment was disbanded in the wake of the Somalia affair. Major procurements were cancelled, delayed or botched. In 2005, ringing in the dawn of a new era, Harper promised to undo all that. And until roughly 2010, with Canada at war in Afghanistan, his government delivered. (Source: Canada.com)
Posted to Yahoo News Canada.
Editorial cartoon blatant sexism (Sept 7)
Editorial cartoon published Sept. 3
I totally agree with the sentiment of the cartoon, which showed Stephen Harper as a weak crybaby next to a strong leader.
But I strongly object to the choice of a young female as a representative of a diminutive, weak, indecisive, crybaby, etc. individual juxtaposed beside a strong, virile, decisive male.
I’m surprised that an editor allowed this blatant sexism to be published.
Cecile Aurini, Hamilton