One of the many true Canadian military heroes is retired General, Rick Hillier. General Hillier spoke of the Canadian military in a way that has always stuck with me. He noted, “We’re not the public service of Canada; we’re not just another department. We are the Canadian Forces, and our job is to be able to kill people.”
The aforementioned quote contradicts the common perception of the Canadian forces solely as peacekeepers. Although peacekeeping is part of the heritage of the Canadian army, and is a vital aspect of our identity as Canadians, it is only one aspect of the Canadian military. I believe that going forward the future of the Canadian forces needs to move away from the guise of simply peacekeeping and towards a persona of strength and competence in a variety of fields.
Calling for a strong military is a divisive thing to do in right-wing politics. A fundamental principle of libertarianism is “the small or non-existent army”. While neo-liberal ideology like that of Prime Minister Harper, includes making sure our troops are provided with the best possible equipment for accomplishing a task, and thus increasing military spending. So, when I was asked to write about the future of the Canadian military as a Conservative, I had to choose between two starkly different conservative options.
The reason I believe the continued pursuit of a strong military is the most appealing direction for the military to move towards, is both a political and moral one.
The political reasoning is Canada simply has a legal and ethical duty to participate in global governance. As a contributing member of both NATO and NORAD, Canada is required to be able to fight for freedom. There is a correlation between being able to help out our allies militarily and the achievement of beneficial economic treaties. The more Canada can offer other allied countries in terms of military support, the more likely our allied countries are to want to work with us in other fields. Canada needs to maintain a competent 21st century military in order to incentivize strategic partnerships, especially with our neighbours to the south.
Canada has already begun to see terrorist plots take root across the country. Our military needs to exist to stop these threats, and continue to stop terrorist and similar threats from breeding. For example, in Afghanistan, the Taliban collapse directly impacts both Canada and our allies.
Furthermore, in Afghanistan, we have embraced our moral duty to see basic equality for all freedom and peace loving humans. This has been achieved through women’s right work, aiming to ensure that Afghani women are afforded the same rights that we take for granted, like simply going to school. The Canadian military attempt at nation building has neutralized Afghanistan as a direct threat to our citizens, and our continued presence has allowed for the assurance that new terrorist cells do not infiltrate the country.
Ultimately, Canada needs to make sure that its citizens are protected both economically and militarily. The best way to achieve that is mutually beneficial treaties. That is why I think our military needs to be strong, and that is why I have the utmost respect for anyone who has served Canada or continues to serve Canada.
On a more somber note, I would like to dedicate this post to my grandfather Norman Gilboord who lost his arm fighting the Nazis in WW2. Please make sure to purchase a poppy and continue to support the troops that keep us safe and remember all the fallen that died for our freedom. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.