Lest We Forget Our Military

An ocean of distance separates Flanders Fields from Ottawa. By now, we are separated just as much from the sentiments of the poem with the same name. In Flanders fields […]

An ocean of distance separates Flanders Fields from Ottawa. By now, we are separated just as much from the sentiments of the poem with the same name.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

………..If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

The author, John McCrae, was one of 61,000 Canadian soldiers killed in the Great War. Forty thousand Canadians followed them In the Second World War. Their sacrifice, competence, and accomplishments did much at home and abroad to make the world notice the once-colonial Canada had come of age.

Alas, the armed forces began to erode a generation later. In early 1968 we saw the integration of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) partially as an exercise to reduce military spending and its numbers from over 105,000 to 70,000. The military expanded to 88,000 in the 1989 under Brian Mulroney’s leadership, but eroded thereafter.

The military in recent years has been increasingly short changed especially during the most recent years  a time when the federal government has massively ramped up spending most everywhere else. Whereas Pierre Trudeau wanted to pull Canada out of NATO decades ago, his son Justin simply balks at the organization’s target of two per cent of GDP-spending. Instead, the sparsely-populated, second-largest country in the world dedicates just 1.29% of its economy to defence with an effective force of only 38,000 troops. Our $36.7 billion annual expenditure is about $20 billion short.

Back to Trudeau Sr. who had some unconventional sympathies. In 1952, he joined five Canadian Communists at a Soviet-sponsored conference in Russia. In 1960, he sojourned through China for six weeks at the invitation of the Maoist state, the same year he naively attempted to canoe from Florida to Revolutionary Cuba. As prime minister, Trudeau Sr. cherished Soviet ambassador to Canada, Alexander Yakovlev as a dear friend. Visits to Chairman Mao in China in 1973 and Fidel Castro in Cuba in 1976 brought mutual praise from both.

It’s hard to rally the troops against your foes when you consider them friends, so it was perhaps for both father and son. In 2013 the future PM stated his admiration for China the most of all countries for its ability to get things done quickly because of it “basic dictatorship.” A few years later it turned out that the Canadian military was hosting Chinese troops  on Canadian soil to train them in winter warfare.

Military readiness was subverted to politics when showcasing diversity and recruiting sexual minorities became the CAF’s overwhelming obsession. Unfortunately, this was not the only political overlay to distract, if not undermine, the forces.

Lawyer Catherine Christensen, who represents 300 veterans, told the National Citizen’s Inquiry on COVID-19 that the vaccine mandate devastated the military–and for this she holds the PM primarily responsible. Divisions killed morale, objectors retired early or were dishonourably discharged, while some were vaccine-injured. She warned the already bare-bones military has been reduced to a disturbingly vulnerable state.

Recently, military chaplains were informed they could no longer pray at public ceremonies, especially to a God conceived as a “He.” One military chaplain lamented to the press that Canada had “violated” its “covenant with the dead” who fought “for God and country.”

Lest we forget? Too late, we already have. In September, all 338 MPs stood and applauded an alleged Nazi who fought against our Russian allies in WWII. If McCrae is right, Canada’s war dead are all astir while its living are fast asleep.

 

Lee Harding is a Research Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

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