Canadian Politics: New Military Spending Part 1
When the Conservative government took power two and half years ago no one could have guessed how much they intended to change the face of the country. It was obvious that their social policies were going to be a lot more conservative than most of Canada had been used to up to that time. Most people hoped that because they did not have a majority in the house of parliament that they wouldn't be able to implement the worst of their platform.
But no one had counted on the opposition parties not being willing to stand up to the government and letting them get away with murder. The previous government had negotiated agreements with all the provinces for universal day care, funding for programming for Native Canadians, begun implementation of the Kyoto accord, implemented gay marriage, and begun the process of decriminalizing marijuana.
Aside from being unable to over turn the Supreme Court of Canada's decision permitting gay marriage, they reversed or overturned every single positive piece of legislation and then proceeded to slash and burn other areas of social spending that were considered "extraneous". But in spite of claiming that this was all in aid of cutting spending and lowering taxes they have been able to find millions if not billions of dollars on military spending.
Now before anyone thinks I'm going to have some knee jerk liberal reaction against military spending, let me be clear about something. As long as we are going to have an armed forces its criminal to under fund them to the point that the non-commissioned soldiers and their families are forced to use food banks or have them use equipment that puts their lives in danger when they are in the field.
I have no argument with a government that wants to correct those inequities, and if that were what the spending was for I would support it. But there's the rub, the money they have been spending has been on equipment that will change the role our military has played on the world stage since we invented the concept of peacekeepers for the Suez Canal crises in the 1950's.
With the exception of a squadron of F-18 fighters and a couple of Frigates during the first Gulf War Canada has not sent troops into a battle situation since Korea until their deployment in Afghanistan. Until then the primary mission of the Canadian armed forces has been humanitarian aid and United Nations sponsored peacekeeping missions. Even our initial commitment under Prime Minister Jean Chretian to Afghanistan was to primarily assist in rebuilding and peace keeping after the ouster of the Taliban.
But the recent infusion of government money into the military is for purchasing equipment that has more of a place on the battlefield than in the aid station or the demilitarized zone. Even the pay increase that has been authorized for soldiers has only been for time spent in battle – hazard pay. Wouldn't you think that it would show soldiers more support if you increased their overall wage, telling them they are doing a valuable service for their country even when they are not in danger of being killed?
Of course they are using the excuse of terrorism for changing the role our military plays on the world stage. But what they fail to mention is that if Canada were to keep to it's role as peacemaker and not associate itself so closely with American foreign policy we wouldn't be considered a target for terrorist attacks. One only needs to look at abject failure of the invasion of Iraq to stop terror attacks against Americans, and indeed have led to their increase, to see how unsuccessful the policy of aggressive retaliation is.
I still find it amazing that supposedly brilliant military strategists would fall for one of the oldest ploys in the revolutionary's handbook. Get the big guy pissed off so that he retaliates and the people will rise up in revolt against ensuing oppression. The longer the occupation of both Iraq and Afghanistan continue the more local opposition has grown.
If the government was serious about wanting to protect our country they would worry less about buying tanks, long range military air transports, troop transports and other weapons for the field and concentrate on our peace keeping capabilities, and defending our Artic territories and coastal waters.
In all the most recent polls conducted in Canada a clear majority of the country's population has shown themselves to be against our involvement in Afghanistan continuing. It might be prudent for the government to remember that the majority of Canadians also opposed sending troops into Iraq or hosting American missiles on Canadian soil and previous governments acquiesced.
Most Canadian are more than willing to show support for the men and women who protect our country, but that doesn't mean they have to support what the government wants to do with them. In fact as most Canadians want to keep our soldiers out of a war that's not of our making and that has resulted in the most fatalities for Canadian troops since the Korean war, it's safe to say they probably support our troops more than the government does.
Before the government signs the contracts committing us to spending more then 17 billion American dollars on changing the role our armed forces play on the world stage, they may want to consider the wishes of the people they supposedly represent. Or is that asking too much?