We must strengthen our Canadian Armed Forces now
Canadians like to think of ourselves as living in a sovereign nation, to the extent that we are in control of our own destiny and make our own decisions.
However, that has become increasingly doubtful.
An important aspect—probably the MOST important aspect—of being a sovereign country is having the ability to defend your own nation.
If you don’t have that, nothing else really matters.
For a country like Canada, having a strongly-equipped armed forces wouldn’t really be much of a challenge, considering our high relative wealth and high level of technology.
And yet, our armed forces are in a state of disrepair.
We have pilot shortages, we have recruitment problems, our air force is flying 40-year-old leftover planes other countries don’t want, our navy is miniscule, and the strategically valuable north is practically undefended.
In short, Canada lacks the ability to defend ourselves, placing the burden of defending our own citizens on our ally, the United States.
The issue is that it’s both unfair to the United States, and unfair to Canadian Citizens for our government to outsource our national defence.
It’s unfair to the U.S. because we should be pulling our own weight in our alliance with them, not putting it all on their shoulders.
And it’s unfair to Canadian Citizens because our own country is put at risk by being reliant on others to do the job we should be doing ourselves.
Unfortunately, Canada’s political establishment is unwilling to take any of this seriously.
In a dangerous world, Canada’s politicians continue to ignore the defence of our nation, just hoping that things will magically “work out” and we will never be faced with any real danger.
Of course, the world doesn’t work like that. The world is becoming increasingly dangerous, with China and Russia building up their arctic forces, and China’s military expanding at an alarming rate.
In that threatening environment, hoping for the best could lead to total disaster for Canada.
That’s why we need to start seeing this as the crisis it really is. The weakness of our armed forces is becoming a bigger and bigger threat to the future of Canada, and that threat must be addressed now.
For that reason, building up our military must take precedence over balancing the budget.
It’s a simple political reality that any party that proposed making big cuts to social spending in order to build up the military would be destroyed in an election campaign. There simply isn’t any appetite for that trade-off. So, that leaves deficit spending as the only politically-feasible path to building up our armed forces.
Considering that the budget deficit is at about $20 billion, considering that we spend roughly $25 billion on our armed forces today and that doubling that number would be a huge boost to our national defence, we would be looking at deficits of roughly $45 billion if we immediately embarked on a military build-up, while keeping other spending on the current trajectory.
$45 billion is a large deficit, but it is smaller than the deficits run by the Harper government during a portion of the 2008 financial crisis aftermath.
Additionally, much of that increased deficit would be going towards wages for more members of the armed forces, military-focused research and development at Canadian universities, and a huge surge in domestic manufacturing, all of which would strengthen our domestic economy, boost GDP, and make it easier to balance the budget down the road as the economic benefits spread throughout the nation.
The final point is this: It’s usually a bad idea to run budget deficits, but there are exceptions. And the crisis facing our nation due to our inability to protect our own territory is one of those exceptions. Canada needs a military build-up, and we need it now. And if that means running bigger deficits for a while, then that’s a price we must be willing to pay to ensure our nation is secure.
The United States has once again called out Canada’s underspending on defence.
Sources told Global News that the U.S. government recently sent a “blunt” letter to the Department of National Defence calling out Canada’s lack of spending on military, failing to meet the NATO target of two percent of GDP.
Global News didn’t obtain a copy of the letter, but were told by sources it was a “frustrated, critical tone”.
“There are very serious threats to our freedom and our security and if NATO is going to be effective, and if we want to put our money where our talk is, we got to spend that money to defend ourselves,” U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien said at the Halifax International Security Forum on Saturday.
“The relationship with Canada and the U.S., the defence relationship, I think, is even stronger now, because they see a tangible plan that we have created,” Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Sunday on The West Block, downplaying the significance of the letter.
In 2017 the Liberals announced deferred and incrementral increased spending on the Canadian military to $33 billion annually by the next decade, although it was also widely reported in 2017 that $8.5 billion in military procurement will be deferred until 2030.
In the 2016 U.S. election Trump ran on telling Americans he would get NATO partners to meet their obligations of spending two percent of their respective GDPs on military.
“It’s a legitimate concern, [Trump’s] empirically correct, we are not spending close to our contribution. And that’s been going on for a very long time,” said Sprott School of Business professor and public policy expert Ian Lee to The Post Millennial.
At the 2014 NATO summit Canada said it would reach the two percent target within 10 years, but Lee and other experts say that Canada is not on track to meet that promise.
According to NATO, Canada is set to spend 1.27 percent of the country’s GDP on defence this year.
The Trump administration has previously put tariffs on Canadian steel on the pretext of “national security” concerns during and after NAFTA renegotiations.
“He could, theoretically, because it is Trump, say ‘I’m going to invoke some sort of sanctions on your exports to the United States because you’re not playing ball over there,” said Lee.
“It’s an election year starting in January. If he’s feeling vulnerable he may be looking for some hot-button issues to rejuvenate his campaign. And if he starts arguing, ‘Those freeloaders up north, they not only cheat us on our milk, but now they’re free-riding on their defence. He can gin it up for political purposes.”
#FireDonCherry and #DonCherryMustGo were the top hashtags on Twitter in Canada Sunday morning after many people got upset at the comments the elderly, controversial and iconic hockey commentator made last night on his show Coach’s Corner.
“You people love–they come here whatever it is–you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price,” said Cherry during the first period intermission of the Toronto Maple Leafs game.
Many tweeted messages expressing anger and disgust over his comments they deemed offensive or racist.
Cherry also called out native-born Canadians in Toronto for not wearing the poppy all that much either, but people found he was singling out immigrants with his comments saying “you people”.
Others came to his defence.
By Sunday, the furor over his comments was so large online that Sportsnet put out a press release to address the controversy.
“DON’S DISCRIMINATORY COMMENTS ARE OFFENSIVE AND THEY DO NOT REPRESENT OUR VALUES AND WHAT WE STAND FOR AS A NETWORK. WE HAVE SPOKEN TO DON ABOUT THE SEVERITY OF THIS ISSUE AND WE SINCERELY APOLOGIZE FOR THESE DIVISIVE REMARKS,” read the press release in all caps and signed by Sportsnet President Bart Yabsley.
Cherry has co-hosted Coach’s Corner with Ron MacLean since 1986, or over three decades.
Natalie, the 17-year-old girl who was suspended from Stonewall Collegiate yesterday over a rainbow poppy row, has provided an exclusive statement to The Post Millennial with additional details on the controversial situation.
“It all started when teachers, counsellors, and some students said we should wear the rainbow poppy…” She wrote, stating that she disagreed with the decision to change the traditional red-and-black poppy used to honour Canadian veterans during the Remembrance Day holiday. “I typed up papers on a computer, printed them off, and taped them up in the halls.”
The printed papers contained some quotes from news stories and people on social media Natalie had collected of individuals expressing criticism of the rainbow poppy. Natalie says she was just trying to express her beliefs and opinion on the matter.
“As I was putting them up, teachers were taking them down. I watched as they took them to the office and gave them to the secretary.”
Natalie says she went to class, but was called to the office soon after. There, the Principal and Vice Principal—Jason Calissis and Bryce Baldwin—were waiting, and Natalie alleges they began to yell at her and accuse her of posting “hate speech.”
“They accused me of hate speech and endangering the physical safety of the group of individuals [LGBT students].” Natalie says, “They asked me what I was thinking, and I told them everything … I said I was just voicing my beliefs and morals.”
Natalie says the two male administrators continued to accuse her of “hate speech,” and she became so scared at one point that she was on the verge of tears. “I got to the point of almost crying but I didn’t. I had to be the voice for all those families who were greatly disrespected and offended.”
Natalie is the cousin of former federal MP candidate Cyara Bird, who ran on the Conservative Party ticket in the 2019 general election for the Churchill-Keewatinook Aski riding. Bird, a member of the Little Black River First Nation, tells The Post Millennial that there are World War Two veterans in their family.
Upon trying to record the conversation with the Principal and Vice Principal on her cell phone, Natalie says her phone was confiscated and she was suspended until after Remembrance Day.
“So I asked why? Why am I being suspended and punished for expressing my feelings? And they said everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, opinions, and way of life. So I asked, why am I not?”
Natalie says her parents were notified at the end of the suspension order. Her father confirmed that he witnessed her phone being returned to her after he arrived to pick her up, and also confirmed that she is not allowed to return to school until Tuesday. They stated that the exact reason for suspension was “hate speech,” not a specific refusal to wear the rainbow poppy. Bird noted that Natalie’s father is “very proud” of his daughter.
The Post Millennial attempted to reach out to Stonewall Collegiate for comment, but was told they would not provide comments to media, aggressively advising us to “Google” the number for the Superintendent before hanging up. The Interlake School Board Superintendent did not return calls, but a statement issued on the Board’s twitter read that no staff member “mandated” a student wear a rainbow poppy.
They did not comment on the suspensions, or whether a student was suspended for voicing an opinion which rejected the rainbow poppy as a symbol, as in the case of Natalie.
The Royal Canadian Legion official position is that altering the poppy is a sign of disrespect: “The poppy is the sacred symbol of remembrance and should not be defaced in any way.”
Every Remembrance Day we see the same thing.
The kind words about gratitude, and sacrifice, and honouring those who died to defend our nation and our freedom.
And those words are important, and they are good.
However, it seems increasingly empty for the words to be repeated while no action is taken beyond that.
We keep saying how much we love our veterans, yet veterans aren’t getting the help they need, are told by the PM they’re “asking for more than we can afford to give,” and still have high rates of homelessness and suicide—often being denied help, or being forced to wait far too long for help.
Both the Liberals and Conservatives have repeatedly broken faith with Canada’s veterans, seemingly glad to use veterans for photo ops during election time, and then ‘moving on’ when the campaign is over.
Additionally, we thank our veterans and honour those who died to protect and preserve Canada and our freedoms, yet we insult their memory by letting our country be so poorly defended.
The military is withering away, our air force is short of pilots and the pilots we do have are flying garbage planes, our military innovation is basically non-existent, and our biggest arms sales aren’t to our own military, they’re to Saudi Arabia.
It’s a national disgrace.
If we truly love our country, we need to show that love by protecting it. After all, if you love something then you want it to be kept safe.
So how can we explain the fact that Canada is undefended?
No missile defence.
A laughably weak presence in the North.
No real air force.
Barely any tanks.
No innovation in areas like hypersonic missiles or armed drones.
Some might say, “oh, the world is beyond that now,” but that is simply absurd.
The world is more dangerous than ever, with military spending going up around the globe, and areas like Canada’s north are potential future battlegrounds for resource acquisition and conflict.
But instead of addressing any of those areas, Canada is sleepwalking while our potential adversaries are awake.
And in a huge irony, many of the people who hate the United States the most are the same people who want to keep our Canadian military weak, thus forcing us to be 100% reliant on the US for our national defence.
The fact is that Canada must move beyond words on Remembrance Day, and start actually giving our veterans the help they need—and have earned, and start building up our armed forces. If that takes billions of dollars, then so be it, that’s the price we need to pay to turn the nice Remembrance Day words into something tangible.