Canada?s military urgently needs help to defend itself ? against the federal Liberal government. Fortunately this past week, the men and women of the Canadian Forces gained two new surprising allies in the battle against chronic under-funding.
In a refreshing demonstration of forthrightness at his own swearing-in ceremony, attended by Prime Minister Paul Martin and Defence Minster Bill Graham, Gen. Rick Hillier stated, ?In this country, we could probably not give enough resources to the men and women to do all the things that we ask them to do. But we can give them too little, and that is what we are now doing.?
Gen. Hillier continued, as the Prime Minister and Defence Minister undoubtedly sat squirming in their chairs, ?Remember them in your budgets.?
Typically, chiefs of defence staff are more diplomatic when addressing their political masters. Perhaps as the former commander of Canada?s mission to Afghanistan, Gen. Hillier found it impossible to remain silent.
The other surprising attack on Mr. Martin came from Liberal stalwart Senator Colin Kenny. Saying that ?it?s really up to the politicians to show some leadership?, he urged the PM to boost military spending by 30 percent in the February 23rd federal budget. Senator Kenny added, ?Until we see that leadership, we?re going to see the military wasting a whole lot of time and effort and trying to make do with something less than the best.?
Not as surprising, but equally significant, Paul Cellucci, as his term as U.S. Ambassador to Canada comes to an end, stated this week that Canada could ?punch above its weight? in the world if Ottawa would spend more on intelligence and a rapid-reaction military force, including heavy-lift aircraft to transport troops and equipment. Ironically, this message is identical to the one Conservatives delivered during last summer?s election.
In fact, it was recently revealed the Department of National Defence spent $4.4-million U.S. last month to rent the Russian aircraft needed to transport Canada?s Disaster Assistance Relief Team (DART) to Asia for the tsunami aid mission.
The Liberals ridiculed the Conservative Party for our election proposal to purchase new transport aircraft and hybrid carriers for our military. The same ships Mr. Martin misleadingly attacked in television ads are precisely what are needed to ensure that Canada can effectively and economically take part in humanitarian missions on short notice.
To further demonstrate the Liberals indifferent and detached attitude toward Canada?s military and security affairs, it was announced that the foreign policy and defence review that?s been promised since Paul Martin became PM has been further delayed.
As I warned, the Liberals continue to use this as an excuse not to invest in the Canadian Forces. More than 11 years have passed since the Liberals have even conducted a defence policy white paper. Our armed forces will be waiting perhaps several more months ? so that the government can hire a British author to give the document more pizzazz.
The Liberals will have one more chance to adequately support the brave men and women of our armed forces. On Feburary 23rd, the federal budget will show the depth of their sincerity ? or not.