fbpx
Connect with us

Opinion

MCCOLL: Canada is skipping the bill on our NATO tab

There is no real interest among the Canadian population to nearly double our defence spending to the $54 billion required to hit 2 per cent by 2027. This has been a core fact of Canadian identity since not long after we repulsed the American invasion during the War of 1812.

mm

Published

on

When it comes to NATO defence spending targets, the Trudeau Liberals aren’t great, but the Harper Conservatives were worse.

Writing in the Financial Post last week, esteemed Canadian military historian (and my master’s supervisor) Dr. David Bercuson summarized the recent history of the NATO spending target and the growing pressure from the Trump administration to live up to that obligation.

The Harper government committed Canada to the 2 per cent target at a conference in Wales in 2014. At last week’s NATO conference, Trudeau claimed that we were spending around 1.4 per cent, which is a creative way of rounding up the 1.31 per cent we actually spend, which is itself a creative way of inflating defence spending by including all sorts of defence related civilian spending. For example, military pensions are included, artificially increasing our NATO spending on paper without providing any real additional military capability). To be fair, NATO itself agrees to including many of these defence-related activities as it helps all member states hit the target, but its purely political.

The Liberal defence plan, ‘Strong, Secure and Engaged (2017)’ could be summarized as a “Plan to fail” regarding spending two per cent of GDP on defence, but at least it’s increasing spending and moving Canada in the right direction.

Compare that to the Harper Government’s plan, which prioritized a balanced 2015 budget over defence spending. Within a year of begrudgingly agreeing to an “aspirational target” of two per cent at the Wales conference – where Harper took significant criticism for the 11 per cent cut in military spending his government made in 2012 – the Harper government slashed an additional $9 billion worth of purchases from the 2015 military budget.  

This cut caused our defence spending to fall below 1 per cent of GDP and caused former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page to lament: “National Defence is becoming a source of funds to reduce the deficit. We’re going to need a whole new capital plan for National Defence.”

Military spending was not a big issue in the 2019 election. In fact, all the big defence spending announcements were made before the election in the summer of 2019. These included a $3 billion sole-source contract to General Dynamics in Ontario to build more Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) for the army, $14.2 billion for Vancouver’s Seaspan shipyards for 16 more Coast Guard ships, and two announcements for Irving Shipyards in Halifax totaling $9.5 billion for the Arctic patrol ship and new frigate programs. The Conservatives were critical of some of these announcements, but also promised not to cancel them if elected.

Outside a few defence policy wonk circles and the small army of lobbyists working for defence contractors, there is no real interest among the Canadian population to nearly double our defence spending to the $54 billion required to hit 2 per cent by 2027. This has been a core fact of Canadian identity since not long after we repulsed the American invasion during the War of 1812.

It was summarized perfectly by Liberal MP David Mills in a speech to the House of Commons in 1875: 

“In a country situated as we are, not likely to be involved in war, and having a large demand upon our resources for public improvements, it [is] highly desirable to have our military affairs conducted as cheaply as possible.”

Alex McColl is the National Defence Columnist for the Western Standard. 

Opinion

LETTER: Stop repatriating ISIS fighters to Canada

A reader says that Canada must shut the door on returning ISIS fighters.

mm

Published

on

RE: Calgary man charged with terror crimes after allegedly training with ISIS in Syria

The arrest of a Calgary man by the RCMP on terror-related charges linked to his time with the Islamic State should be a stern reminder to Canadians that the old foe of Islamic extremism hides beneath current tensions. The RCMP say there are 190 Canadians linked to Islamic terror groups. Sixty have returned to Canada. The most notorious organization, Islamic State, butchered its way across nations and conquered sizable territory and resources.

We should never forget that these groups intend us harm. ISIS, more than any other, seduced many individuals into committing crimes for them – many of these persons were never officially linked to Islamic State. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is right to counsel Ottawa to never allow the repatriation of ISIS fighters back into this country. Last month, Human Rights Watch accused Canada of abandoning some of these people inside prison camps variously controlled by the Kurds and the Turks.

The problem of terrorist repatriation is a global one. The Kurds and the Turks, by turns, have demanded their return and an end to their unwanted global responsibility. Britain’s appellate court has been lambasted by critics for allowing its former citizen, dubbed the Jihadi Bride, an ISIS member, to return home. Shamima Begum left Britain for Syria and stayed with the terror group for three years. Now sitting inside a refugee camp, she apparently begged to be repatriated. Britain’s Conservative MPs argue her return sets a dangerous precedent. They are correct in saying so.

Global, indeed Middle Eastern, security has always depended on a powerful alliance between the U.S, Israel, and a few Arab nations. States like Egypt and Jordan share military and economic partnerships with Israel. The American withdrawal from parts of the Middle East like Syria was a mistake. They enabled the Taliban to rebound and Hezbollah to resume attacking Israel. The China-Iran alliance could enable the tracking of Western forces. 

Christopher Mansour
Barrie, ON

Continue Reading

Opinion

LETTER: There won’t be any accountability for WE in this Canada

A reader says that Canadians shouldn’t hold their breath that any accountability will come in the wake of the growing WE Scandal.

mm

Published

on

The Kielburger brothers are like the prime minister; they think most people would believe the WE charity along with the founders wouldn’t benefit from administering a near $1 billion dollar program. The Conservative’s have called for a RCMP investigation of WE and Trudeau’s involvement. I can’t see that happening.

Brenda Lucki, the RCMP Commissioner in the SNC-L affair, could have applied to the courts for release of cabinet documents, but she chose to hide behind the PM’s cabinets privilege. The Ethics Commissioner has no teeth to impose any real penalty on these ministers who again, abuse Canadian finances. This is a failed federation, lead by a corrupt PM and finance minister along with the PMO that has its head in the sand.

On another point.

WEXIT is sounding better, every day, for Albertans, but I don’t think Premier Kenney had any intention of taking the next step to give Albertans a say. Premier Kenney changed his tune after he was elected to the Premiership. I am not impressed with him as he was all fire and brimstone prior to the election, but now I feel he is just another politician who pulled a bait and switch on his real intensions. To bad I didn’t hear him tell Albertans that he was a committed Federalist prior to saying he was fighting for Alberta. I would have changed my vote for sure. 

Steven Ruthven
Calgary, AB 

Continue Reading

Opinion

BARNES: Time to replace the RCMP with an Alberta force

Drew Barnes writes that Alberta should immediately begin the process of creating its own police force.

mm

Published

on

Guest opinion column from Drew Barnes, MLA

In the Fair Deal Panel report, it was recommended that Alberta create its own police force. It is what we heard loud and clear from Albertans across the province. It is imperative, now more than ever with the overreaching policies of Ottawa, that we have control over policing in our own land. Premier Kenney – in the government’s response – has committed to conducting a further analysis of the panel recommendation to move to an Alberta Provincial Police. This analysis will support why we should have our own police force that is overseen by a directly elected Alberta Chief of Police. An Alberta Provincial Police force is a constitutional right that we have, and it should be exercised. 

Historically, Alberta had its own police force from 1917 to 1932. During that period, Alberta saw an increase in arrest rate and conviction, and a decrease in movement into Alberta by those with criminal intent. The reason for this increase has been attributed to the institutional difference in focus and priorities of a national vs an Alberta entity. 

This history serves to underscore why we need a police force that is familiar with the Alberta experience. One of the issues the RCMP have that makes it difficult for them to effectively police the province is the constant in-and-out of its members in communities, which nullifies the benefits that come with being familiar with an area and its particular challenges. An officer raised in Jasper, Ontario will be less familiar with the issues and concerns of Jasper, Alberta, than an Albertan. While some RCMP recruits may be from Alberta and may land a position in Alberta, that is too often not how it works. The lack of familiarity with community, and short-term posting protocol of the RCMP is an ongoing, acknowledged hinderance, for both the officers and the community.

The costs to operate the RCMP increase at a higher rate than provincially run police forces. A study comparing these costs found that over the span of eight years, the cost of operating RCMP detachments rose an average of $44.50 per capita. The costs for the Ontario Provincial Police force rose only $37.10 per capita on average during the same period.

We can cancel the contract with the federal government and the RCMP with two years notice. Providing notice that we will cancel the contract can take place as early as March 31, 2021. This would allow us to terminate the contract as of March 31, 2023 at no cost. Within that two-year gap, we can work out the details, such as settling accounts over buildings and equipment, which the current contract provides a road map for.

As a province, we even have a basic template in place that make this easier. The Alberta Sheriffs already perform many police duties in our province with 950 sworn members and 16 stations. We would simply need to look at expanding them into the areas that presently utilize RCMP service. 

The RCMP is a proud and iconic symbol of Canada, made up of proud, hardworking members from across Canada, however, it is time for Alberta to consider taking back it’s policing, to create local ownership, accountability, and to hire Albertans to police Alberta. Albertans should determine their own policing priorities based on their particular needs. It is time to bring back the Alberta Provincial Police.

Drew Barnes is the UCP MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat

Continue Reading

Sign up for the Western Standard Newsletter

Free news and updates
* = required field

Trending

Copyright © Western Standard owned by Wildrose Media Corp.