Archive for November, 2007

Send Your Questions to Nobel Peace Prize Recipient Jody Williams

November 29, 2007

Dear friend,

Send your questions to Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jody Williams, and logon to the Globe and Mail on Friday November 30th, at noon EDT, to participate in a live chat with her.

Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative Jody Williams is in Canada this week on a high-level visit to Ottawa, which will also include the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the treaty to ban land mines.

 

While in Ottawa, Ms. Williams will be participating LIVE in an online Globe and Mail discussion on Friday November 30, 2007, from 12:00 to 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

 

I encourage you to submit your questions to Ms. Williams as soon as possible through the Globe and Mail web site, and then check back on Friday as the whole thing unfolds live.

 

I have also included an article from today’s Globe and Mail on Ms. Williams, which they published to coincide with her visit to Ottawa. To learn more about Ms. Williams or her trip to Ottawa, please visit the Nobel Women’s Initiative website.Best,

Steven Staples

Rideau Institute and founder of Ceasefire.ca

 


‘Where’s Canada’s leadership in global issues?’

Honoured for spearheading weapons ban, Nobel laureate Jody Williams chastises Ottawa for ‘taking a back seat’ in world affairs
GLORIA GALLOWAY  From Thursday’s Globe and Mail

  November 29, 2007 at 1:32 AM EST

OTTAWA Nobel laureate Jody Williams will be in Canada this week to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the treaty to ban land mines but she is far from impressed with this country’s recent efforts to promote world peace.

“My personal message would be ‘Where’s Canada’s leadership in global issues right now?'” Ms. Williams said in a telephone interview Wednesday from her home in Virginia.

“Challenging the world over 10 years ago to negotiate a mine-ban treaty within the year was serious leadership on the part of the Canadian government. And it was very risky. And they carried it off.”

But that kind of leadership does not seem to exist today, she said. For example, there is a new initiative that should bring about a convention on cluster munitions by the end of May, 2008, and Canada is noticeably not leading in this initiative.

Canada did sign on last February to an international process to protect civilians from the impact of the massive packs of bomblets that have been used to deadly effect in Iraq, Kosovo and Lebanon but it was not among the first group of 30 countries to join the fight.

“You are really taking a back seat and it’s really kind of hard to understand,” Ms. Williams said.

With land mines, Canada led the way.

As did Ms. Williams. She and her organization, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for the work they did to end the use of the weapons.

During her visit to Canada she will meet with parliamentarians about the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan and she will give a public address Friday entitled Canada and the World.

Ms. Williams had arranged a meeting a month ago with Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier but Mr. Bernier’s officer called last week to cancel. A spokesman for the minister said Wednesday that there were “scheduling conflicts” and that a meeting had instead been arranged with parliamentary secretary Deepak Obhrai. The spokesman would not elaborate on the nature of the scheduling conflicts.

But Ms. Williams is still looking forward to the trip and the opportunity to mark the anniversary of the so-called Ottawa process to end land mines that took place Dec. 3 and 4, 1997.

Her speech is likely to touch on what she considers to be a unreasonably close relationship between the Conservative government of Stephen Harper and U.S. President George W. Bush.

For instance, Ms. Williams is perplexed by Canada’s decision to prevent peace activists Ann Wright and Medea Benjamin from entering the country earlier this year.

“Their biggest offence is that they have publicly stated their opposition to Mr. Bush’s war,” she said.

In previous years, she said, Canada took its own stands one of which resulted in the land-mines ban.

“What was demonstrated with the Ottawa process which brought about the mine-ban treaty,” Ms. Williams said, “is that when countries that have a different view about our security threats in the world come together and work with civil society, they don’t need the so-called important powers to do good in the world.”


 

Want to make a donation? Send your gift on-line, or print off this convenient donation form. Ceasefire.ca was formerly a project of the Polaris Institute. Read more.Rideau Institute  operations@rideauinstitute.ca  30 Metcalfe Street, Suite 500 Ottawa ON K1P 5L4 Canada  Tel. 613 565-4994 Fax 613 237-3359  www.rideauinstitute.caIf you received this newsletter through a friend, please consider becoming a subscriber.  The Rideau Institute is a public interest research organization federally incorporated as a not-for-profit organization with Industry Canada under the Canada Corporations Act. Unfortunately, donations to the Rideau Institute are not tax deductible.

November 29, 2007 at 11:01 pm 1 comment

Update: Canada edges toward deadly nuclear embrace

 

November 22, 2007

Dear friend,

Canada’s voting record at the UN on crucial anti-nuclear weapons resolutions indicates an alarming shift away from Canada’s traditional role as a supporter of disarmament.

Yesterday, the Toronto Star published the article below written by Anthony Salloum, program director of the Rideau Institute (Ceasefire.ca’s parent).

Anthony outlines what happened at the UN and why we should be concerned about the direction the government is heading.

If you have not done so already, please send your letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier, urging the government to support nuclear disarmament.  
 

Best wishes,

 

   

 
Canada
edges toward deadly nuclear embrace 

 
 Toronto Star, Nov 21st, page AA8

Anthony Salloum

The growing uncertainty over the status of Pakistan‘s nuclear arsenal is another reminder that these weapons continue to threaten the world, and suggests why Canada should be pushing for the elimination of all nuclear weapons, worldwide. There has never been a more important time for Canada‘s voice to be heard in support of nuclear disarmament, but if recent votes at the United Nations last month are any indication, Canada is slowly shifting toward embracing nuclear weapons.

Traditionally, Canada has been a champion of nuclear disarmament. But last month, our position was put to the test on a key UN vote to diminish the risk of nuclear war, and Canada sat silent.

Our ambassador, on instructions from Ottawa, abstained on an important UN resolution “calling on Nuclear Weapons States to lower the operating status of nuclear weapons.” This was the first time such a motion had made it to a vote.

The intent of the motion, championed by retired Canadian senator Douglas Roche and his organization, the Middle Powers Initiative, was to lengthen the time required for a nuclear launch, reducing the risk of an accidental or premature launch.

But the Harper government doesn’t see it that way. In explaining Canada‘s silent abstention, our ambassador said that while “reducing operational readiness remained important … at the same time, deterrence remained an important element of international security and a fundamental part of the deterrence policy of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).”

In other words, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has decided that NATO’s nuclear deterrence policy reigns supreme.

At the urging of anti-nuclear organizations such as the Canadian Pugwash Group, last spring then-foreign affairs minister Peter MacKay reported to Parliament that he had raised concerns about NATO’s reliance upon nuclear weapons at a meeting of the alliance.

Then the government shifted tactics, and a few weeks later then-defence minister Gordon O’Connor told Parliament: “We are a member of NATO and we stand by NATO’s policies. NATO, at this stage, has no policy of disarming from nuclear weapons.”

Not surprisingly, the old policy supporting “the complete elimination of nuclear weapons” was changed on the foreign affairs department website to say that Canada‘s policy is “consistent with our membership in NATO.”

But the reason for this shift may have less to do with NATO itself than with acquiescence to the United States‘ interests in keeping the door open to a renewal of nuclear weapons testing.

Equally worrisome this year was Canada‘s reticence to put its name behind a motion to prevent nuclear weapons testing. Last year, Canada co-sponsored a resolution calling for a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

In October, Canada failed to co-sponsor the resolution that stressed “the vital importance and urgency of signature and ratification, without delay and without conditions, to achieve the earliest entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.”

Thankfully, the resolution passed, 166 in favour to only one opposed (United States) with four abstentions (Colombia, India, Mauritius, Syria).

Ultimately, Canada voted in favour, but could Canada‘s decision not to co-sponsor the resolution, as it had done in the past, be related to the U.S. plan to develop new nuclear weapons?

This is a troublesome shift in Canada‘s policy on nuclear disarmament. One can trace its beginnings to 2005 when the Liberals, trying to curry favour in Washington, started getting cold feet on nuclear disarmament.

In her book Holding the Bully’s Coat, Linda McQuaig notes positively that, by 2005, Canadian leadership over several years had led to 13 other countries breaking ranks with their NATO allies and voting with Canada in support of a resolution aimed at ending the deadlock that is paralyzing the UN’s Conference on Disarmament.

Consistent with its leadership, Canada announced its intention to support another important nuclear disarmament resolution at the UN First Committee, the body responsible for disarmament. Canada‘s support of the creative and inspired initiative was intended to try to break the impasse on disarmament talks by proposing new, ad hoc committees that would bypass the deadlock.

But with hours to go, Canada pulled the plug on supporting the UN resolution, and as a result other countries followed suit. The reason: Paul Martin’s government succumbed to intense pressure from the White House. McQuaig notes, “tragically, the moment had been lost.”

While Martin’s failing may have been an aberration, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives may be making a more permanent policy shift.

Parliamentarians and Canadians need to raise the alarm about this shift. It is inconceivable that, at a time of renewed threats from nuclear weapons, Canada would be shifting away from an active role in advancing nuclear disarmament.

It is up to those who feel strongly that such a move is disastrous for global security to hold all parliamentarians accountable for allowing this to take place. It’s not too late to stop this shift in its tracks.

Anthony Salloum is program director at the Rideau Institute, a public policy and advocacy group based in Ottawa.

November 22, 2007 at 10:05 am 1 comment

This Conference of Defence Associations op-ed is brought to you by…

Some news on one of our sparring partners – the Conference of Defence Associations. Oh, how the defence lobby tries to label us an “NDP front group,” but just what do you call a group that gets paid by the military to write op-eds for the newspapers…

From Macleans.ca

The CDA gets $100,000 a year from the Department of Defence

JOHN GEDDES | November 15, 2007 |

<!–

JOHN GEDDES

–>

A newspaper reader turns to the op-ed page and finds a commentary supporting the mission in Afghanistan written by a retired general or colonel writing for the Conference of Defence Associations. Or the reader scans a story on the purchase of military hardware in which Paul Manson, the former chief of defence staff, or another distinguished retired officer affiliated with the CDA, is quoted supporting the move. The comments dovetail with Conservative policy, but are presented as the views of an expert, independent group.

Just how independent, though, is open to debate. The CDA gets $100,000 a year from the Department of National Defence expressly for advocating on military matters. The department refused to release its funding agreement with the CDA to Maclean’s, saying it went to cabinet and is therefore secret. But Alain Pellerin, retired colonel and CDA executive director, outlined some details. The CDA must produce a quarterly magazine, for instance, and conduct symposiums for students. “We also have to write,” Pellerin said, “a number of op-eds to the press.”

Requiring a taxpayer-subsidized advocacy group to make its case through the media to qualify for annual renewal of its funding is not standard policy. In fact, the Conservatives often frown upon paying for advocacy work at all. To cite a contentious area, the 2007-08 federal guidelines for women’s groups make domestic advocacy and lobbying ineligible for any funding support.

Pellerin said the CDA remains independent, but he conceded, “It’s walking a fine line at times.” Asked if there is any aspect of Tory defence policy the CDA opposes, he couldn’t think of one. Back when the Liberals were in power, things were different. Pellerin said the CDA briefly lost its federal support, which goes back to 1932, because then-defence minister John McCallum was “annoyed” over its persistent calls for more defence spending.

November 19, 2007 at 9:31 pm Leave a comment

A personal video appeal from Steve Staples

November 15, 2007

Dear Ceasefire.ca supporter,

I’m sending you this personal video appeal because you’re a good friend and supporter of our peace work at Ceasefire.ca.

Please take a moment to watch the video, and find out how you can help to end Canada’s war in Afghanistan, and find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Then I hope you will take a moment to make a special donation to Ceasefire.ca.

 

You can do it online, or print off this coupon to send it through the mail.

We’ll use it to continue working to get the message out about the war and what we can do to bring about a real and lasting solution to the problems over there.

I hope to hear from you.
  In peace,

   

 
Want to make a donation? Send your gift on-line, or print off this convenient donation form. Ceasefire.ca was formerly a project of the Polaris Institute. Read more.

    Ceasefire.ca is a project of the Rideau Institute.  For information, please contact:    operations@rideauinstitute.ca  30 Metcalfe Street, Suite 500   Ottawa, ON K1P 5L4 Canada  Tel. 613-565-4994 Fax. 613-565-7720  www.rideauinstitute.ca

If you received this newsletter through a friend, please consider becoming a subscriber.  The Rideau Institute is a public interest research organization federally incorporated as a not-for-profit organization with Industry Canada under the Canada Corporations Act. Unfortunately, donations to the Rideau Institute are not tax deductible.

November 14, 2007 at 7:47 pm Leave a comment

Remembrance Day 2007

 A reflection on Remembrance Day by Anthony Salloum of the Rideau Institute…

Today at 11:00 am, Canadians, young and old, will take a moment to pause and remember those who gave their lives serving their country.

Canada has evolved into a mature democracy peacefully, but countless Canadians have sacrificed their lives in two world wars, peacekeeping missions, and most recently in Afghanistan.

Irrespective of whether we agree or disagree on the nature of Canada’s current mission in Afghanistan, Canadians are united in their respect and gratitude for the sacrifices made by Canadian men and women in Khandahar, and their families.

We will all pause, reflect and give thanks. And, we will never forget. I for one, will redouble my efforts to achieve peace at home, and around the world. We owe it to those we remember today.

November 11, 2007 at 2:05 pm Leave a comment

And how the “peace lobby” responds

In the last post I told you about Jack Granatstein’s defence lobby think tank sending around a poison-pen article about a report written by Bill Robinson and me for the CCPA on Canada’s military spending. Granatstin’s article elicited a flood of letters in response after it was published in the Edmonton Journal. The paper devoted space to five letters it received. Here they are for you. – Steve

Canada isn’t TurkeyThe Edmonton Journal

Sun 04 Nov 2007

Page: A19

Section: Letters

Byline: Peter Coombes

Source: The Edmonton Journal

The problem with Jack *Granatstein*’s analysis is that it is more appropriate for the 19th century than for today.

Building massive armies with big, expensive toys that can kill tens of thousands of people is not what we need, nor want, if we are to build a more secure world for Canadians.

*Granatstein* claims that Turkey’s interests are bettered secured because it has a massive and expensive army. How long has Turkey been fighting wars with its neighbours? Do Canadians aspire to be armed and ready to fight continuous wars like Turkey, or like our neighbours to the south? Well yes, if you still believe in the 19th century glory of war; but a definite no, if you believe in the dignity and security of all people.

Blowing up tens of thousands of Kurdish Iraqis (who are Turkish terrorists as *Granatstein* points out but forgets to remind us are American allies) is not what I want Canada to aspire to. Destroying villages in Afghanistan is not in our interests.

Our interests, security and human dignity rest on building global diplomacy and a working global governance.

We can aspire to go backwards or we can aspire to make the world a better place.

Peter Coombes, Vancouver

=====================================================================

Warmongering

The Edmonton Journal

Sun 04 Nov 2007

Page: A19

Section: Letters

Byline: Patricia Hartnagel

Source: The Edmonton Journal

It is incredible that Jack *Granatstein*, a retired academic with his depth and breadth of experience, has levelled such a venomous attack on a short, 10-page report (More than the Cold War:

Canada’s Military Spending 2007-2008) issued by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The centre’s name says it all — its mandate is to look at policy areas from different perspectives than those presented by the “mainstream” think-tanks. Is that a problem?

The name of *Granatstein*’s organization — The Council for Canadian Security in the 21st Century — is not quite as transparent; however a quick look at its advisory council members and membership list, clearly indicates their vested interests.

What is particularly disappointing about *Granatstein*’s screed is his need to undermine the study as being produced by “new Democratic Party-front organizations.” Could we not, in turn, suggest that the Council for Canadian Security in the 21st Century is in fact a front for the defence industry?

If we hold that thought as we read *Granatstein*’s article, it becomes obvious why the defence lobbyists insist that the percentage of GDP is the only valid way to evaluate Canadian defence spending.

It is because this measurement always shows Canada in a poor light.

We’ve heard it over and over again — in terms of our levels of defence spending, we’re in a race for last place with Luxembourg!

How much easier it then becomes to whip up patriotic fervour and, in the process, increased defence procurements.

To suggest that “studies such as More than the Cold War … do nothing to advance the necessary debate on defence, nothing at all”

is outrageous. Why do they not contribute? Because they don’t agree with the military and defence industries’ spin? Shame on *Granatstein* for stooping to this level of discourse.

Canada has drifted, with no comprehensive foreign policy or defence review or consultation Canadians, from a middle power with an interest and commitment to the United Nations and a human security agenda, to an overemphasis on military “solutions” and defence policies made on the fly.

This is a disservice to all Canadians, and the attempt by

*Granatstein* to further squelch any discussion of this critical policy area is insulting.

Patricia Hartnagel, Edmonton

=====================================================================

Better use for money

The Edmonton Journal

Sun 04 Nov 2007

Page: A19

Section: Letters

Byline: Edwin Daniel

Source: The Edmonton Journal

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives notes that the Harper government is spending more on the military than during the Cold War. Jack *Granatstein*’s argument is entirely based on how to evaluate the numbers. He argues they should be put in the context of GDP or per capita. In these measures, according to *Granatstein*, Canada does not spend too much, or even enough.

*Granatstein* is a military historian and writes for the right-wing Council for Canadian Security in the 21st Century. He supports Canadian intervention in Afghanistan.

What he fails to address is whether Canada needs to spend these large sums on the military and whether there are better ways to spend our money.

There is no valid basis for these large military expenditures. No country is threatening us and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are wars of aggression and imperialism instigated by the Bush administration. They are occupations in support of the puppet governments set up by the U.S.

These interventions have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of refugees.

They are fought under the propaganda slogan that they are wars against terrorism, but there is no such enemy. Terrorists are criminals and should be dealt with as such.

Not only is there no valid need for Canadian expenditures of the current scale, the money wasted on occupying Afghanistan has contributed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s failures to provide things Canadians really need.

For example, Harper has done nothing to provide the 250,000 child-care spaces he promised. He cut funding to nearly all non-governmental groups (NGOs) that supported such initiatives as improving the status of women or providing legal help to those in need.

Harper also failed to provide the previously promised funds to improve living conditions for First Nations people. He has not even provided them with safe drinking water.

He has done nothing effective to reduce waiting times for health care and has allowed the creeping privatization of our universal health-care system. He would rather spend our money on the military adventures that *Granatstein* loves and cut taxes than provide for what Canadians need.

It’s time Canadians had their say about Harper’s military adventures. We do not need advice from *Granatstein* that we should be spending ever more on military supplies while other needs languish.

Edwin Daniel, Edmonton

Illustration: Photo: Jim Farrell, the Journal, File / Two Canadian

soldiers stand in front of a Nyala mine-resistant vehicle in

Afghanistan. Seventy-five of the vehicles were purchased for the

mission, but much of the Armed Forces’ equipment needs replacement.

;

=====================================================================

Are we peacekeepers or fighters?

The Edmonton Journal

Sun 04 Nov 2007

Page: A19

Section: Letters

Byline: Mary Elizabeth Pinkoski

Source: The Edmonton Journal

Re: “Does Canada overspend on its military?” by J.L.

*Granatstein*, Opinion, Oct. 29.

I find it discouraging that J.L. *Granatstein*’s article contributes to new rhetoric taking place in Canada, which has shifted away from a language of peacekeeping when discussing Canada’s military.

There seems to be a trend in Canada to focus on a much more defence-based military, as opposed to a peacekeeping military, despite Canada’s long history as peacekeepers.

*Granatstein*’s work as senior scholar for the Council of Canadian Security in the 21st Century heightens this alarmist attitude by arguing that Canadians must continue to increase military funding.

This contributes to the notion of Canada becoming increasingly militaristic. I find it puzzling that *Granatstein*, who also wrote the now infamous book Who Killed Canadian History?, can so blatantly promote this militaristic attitude without questioning what is happening to Canada’s strong history as peacekeepers.

While *Granatstein* has used this opportunity to critique a report produced by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, he fails to recognize that we must move beyond a funding debate into a debate about the ultimate goal and involvement of the Canadian military.

Only after this debate has occurred, can funding be examined.

Mary Elizabeth Pinkoski, Edmonton

=====================================================================

No real threat

The Edmonton Journal

Sun 04 Nov 2007

Page: A19

Section: Letters

Byline: M. Shannon

Source: The Edmonton Journal

When Jack *Granatstein* calls for massive increases in defence spending and compares our current budget as a percentage of GNP to the height of the Cold War he overlooks one small item — the Soviet Union is gone.

The military exists to defend against likely threats and not simply to to keep up with the Joneses. The truth is Canadian taxpayers provide the Department of National Defence with much more than it can efficiently spend and more than it needs for the current very minor military threats to Canada.

M. Shannon, Edmonton

November 5, 2007 at 9:58 pm Leave a comment

How the defence lobby operates

Even wonder how the defence lobby is able to get so many articles in the newspapers? Well let me show you…

Here is a copy of an email sent out to newspapers, journalists, and others from a conservative, pro-military think tank run out of the University of Calgary called the Canadian Council for Security in the Twenty-First century. It’s headed by historian Jack Granatstein.

The email is distributing an article by Jack Granatstein. He attacks a report that Bill Robinson and I wrote for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) called “More than the Cold War: Canada’s military spending 2007-2008.”

Granatstein couldn’t even spell my name right, but nonetheless, his article was published by the Montreal Gazette, the Edmonton Journal, and the Guelph Mercury News. – Steve

—— Forwarded Message
From: “Dr. R. Sarty” <rsarty@ccs21.org>
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2007 16:27:53 -0600
To: <info@ccs21.org>
Subject: Council for Canadian Security in the 21st Century – Article Series
 MEDIA DISTRIBUTION

Please find attached the next in a series of articles by the Council for Canadian Security in the 21st Century entitled “Does Canada Overspend on its Military?.” This article may be published ‘gratis’ if the contact addresses below are printed as well. CCS21 would be grateful if a copy could be sent to the mail address or to <info@ccs21.org> mailto:info@ccs21.org .
Roger Sarty
Chair, CCS21
CCS21
Box 66013
University of Calgary RPO
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB  T2N 4T7

Website:  www.ccs21.org <http://www.ccs21.org>  

Does Canada Overspend on its Military?

J.L. Granatstein

Does Canada spend enough on the Canadian Forces? Military leaders and pro-defence lobby groups, along with academics and some parliamentarians, for years have said that Canadian governments have shortchanged defence. They point to the numbers: only 63,000 regulars, down from 120,000 at the peak of the Cold War, and a defence budget that is only 1.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product compared to the 2.2 percent that  is the NATO average. Even with the defence budget increases pledged by the Martin Liberals and endorsed and expanded by the present Conservative government, Canada has a long way to go to have a well-manned, well-equipped military.

Or does it? On October 22, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report, More than the Cold War: Canada’s Military Spending 2007-08. Written by Stephen Staples, a critic of the Canadian Forces for years, and Bill Robinson, the report argues that Canada is now spending more on defence in inflation-adjusted dollars than it has done at any time since the peak of the Cold War. The only time Canada spent more, the authors say, was during the Second World War. And Staples and Robinson go on,  spending as a percentage of GDP is a poor indicator. Using GDP percentage, Robinson points out, Turkey would be near the top of NATO spenders, but “No one really thinks that Turkey is making one of the greatest contributions to NATO. What really counts in defence spending is the amount of dollars actually being spent and in that area Canada is up there,” standing sixth in NATO.

This argument is nonsense. During the height of the Cold War, Canada spent more than seven percent of Gross Domestic Product on defence. The armed forces were tripled in size in a few years, vast quantities of equipment-ships, aircraft, tanks–were purchased, and Canada deployed troops to fight in the Korean War and to take up defensive positions against a feared Soviet attack in Western Europe.

The sense of urgency to rearm was real, and the best indicator of that was the money spent-and the fact that the government was prepared to devote such a high percentage of GDP to the task. Dollars mattered, of course, but the GDP percentage was the key indicator of urgency.

It still is today. The nation is in the early stages of re-building the Canadian Forces. Expensive equipment is being ordered, and large sums are being allocated to fight the Afghan War. But these dollar figures, however large they are when compared to those from the 1950s, are coming from a much bigger government budget in a much richer nation. Using percentage of Gross Domestic Product in fact is the best measure of assessing the seriousness of Canadian efforts. GDP has the virtue of calculating the productivity of a nation and it is a useful comparative device. The Americans spend an estimated 3.8 percent of their huge GDP on defence, and that $500+ billion dollars is an indication of their priorities-and wealth.

Another indicator is defence spending per capita. The Yanks pay $1756 each for defence, Britons $990, Germans $447, Italians $514-and Canadians only $414. The Australians, for example, each pay 50 percent more than we do.

The Turks, sneered at by Robinson and Staples, spend very close to the Canadian per capita sum, but that amounts to 3 percent of their GDP, a high figure in NATO terms. Why do the Turks have nearly a million men, regulars and reserves, in their military? Why do they spend as much as they do? Bill Robinson ventures no judgments, perhaps because that might oblige him to look at Turkey’s strategic situation on the edge of the Middle East and at the Kurdish terrorist incursions that cross their border with Iraq. That nations might have interests to protect, that they might have rational reasons for spending money on their militaries, never seems to cross the minds of Robinson and Staples.

Canada too has national interests and it needs military resources to protect and advance them. To me, if not to Robinson and Staples, the Afghan War serves our national interests by helping to create a government there that will not support and shelter terrorists who can strike at us. To me, Canada needs a military that can protect our people and our territory, the basic national interest of any nation-state. We need a military that can do our fair share in defending our continent and our hemisphere, something that we have not been doing for decades. We rely on the United States to defend us, and the Americans will-because it is in their national interests not to have a defence vacuum to their north. But as a nationalist, I would much prefer that Canada did more to fill that vacuum, thus ensuring its sovereignty with its own resources. Those are the reasons we have a military; those are the reasons we spend what we do. And those are the reasons, in our own interests, that we must have a Canadian Forces that can do the job of protecting and advancing the nation’s interests.

Studies such as More than the Cold War, produced by New Democratic Party-front organizations, do nothing to advance the necessary debate on defence, nothing at all. Canada needs to examine its national interests calmly and rationally and then set about providing the military resources it needs to protect and advance them. Spurious comparisons that neglect the realities do nothing to this end.

(J.L. Granatstein writes on behalf of the Council for Canadian Security in the 21st Century (http://www.ccs21.org/). Free use may be made of this column providing full credit is given to CCS21.)

November 5, 2007 at 9:48 pm 2 comments


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