Country should be cautious about stretching horizons

Canada’s defence minister announced huge future military expenditures

To the editor,

Between a U.K. election that went off the rails, and a U.S. Senate circus with the fired FBI director, there were statements from Ottawa that were almost lost in the 24-hour-news-cycle shuffle.

The foreign affairs minister envisioned Canada emerging from the shadow of its southern neighbour, and flexing some muscle on the world stage; she assumes that America First policies recently adopted in the White House would exclude the U.S.A. from its customary role as global cop. Next day, Canada’s defence minister announced huge future military expenditures, ready to take on the bad boys of our little blue planet. There were no indications how the battle-ready billions would be paid for – presumably by cutting some existing programs, or by raising more taxes, or even by charging for selfies to those eager to pose with our photogenic PM.

Both ministerial announcements are little more than a rehash of past promises that have never been kept. A dozen years ago Liberal PM Paul Martin made very similar declarations about Canadian pride and influence and his defence minister promised military might. Just a few years afterwards, Tory PM Stephen Harper promised a ‘Canada first’ military strategy with huge defence spending, but that was stymied by federal deficits. Maybe the new double-barrelled Canadian strategy attempts to gain that coveted seat on the U.N. Security Council. No news yet on the long-promised 600 strong peacekeeping force to an unnamed African country, but there is a Canadian Forces deployment to Latvia to poke the Russian president in his eye.

With unkept promises from the federal Liberal’s 2015 election campaign – infrastructure spending and aiding desperate indigenous communities, to name but two of many – Canadians may think it best to spend money taking care of home turf, before venturing too far over the horizon. Especially in light of how our high-profile participation in disastrous NATO missions to Afghanistan and Libya have left both of those countries in far worse shape than ever before.

Bernie Smith, Parksville