Canadian Armed forces photograph

Canada First on errands of mercy?

Victoria, B.C., Wednesday, May 14, 2008, by : Eugene Parks

A "Canada First" military strategy is Stephen Harper's latest promise. Of course one can be forgiven for asking, "What does that mean?" When asked, the Prime Minister's Office produced no study papers or plans of any kind. So what is the military point that the Prime Minister is trying to make?

Under Liberal governments our military was used primarily for humanitarian relief and peace keeping (with few exceptions). Since the Trudeau era our military has not been used for just our own direct protection and benefit. Rather we spent military resources, and sometimes lives, to help others.

Presumably then, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is saying that using our military as a humanitarian and peace keeping force is no longer Canada's principle military objective. Given the Prime Minister's insistence on hard combat in what is now a local civil war in Afghanistan, we can also conclude that Mr. Harper equates a "Canada First Military Strategy" with hard combat.

However, for nearly fifty years Canada has recognized that hard military combat should not be the main purpose of military force. Defending the peace through humanitarian relief and peace keeping produces far greater returns than does deadly combat. Naturally, military forces must be able to inflict and take casualties in defense of its civilian population. However, our defense is greater served through helping others and keeping the peace. Having an increasingly effective DART capability would garner Canada the greatest international acclaim and provide greater protection for Canadians at home.

Unfortunately, we now have a Prime Minister that believes in war making more than peace keeping - present for combat in Afghanistan, absent in relief for Myanmar and China.


Eugene Parks

Physics Graduate, University of Waterloo
Descendant of the Ottawa Valley People

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