Harper hears a hoo-rah

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The federal election is a distant memory right now, with summer finally in full swing and various summer activities occupying our attention, but there is no doubt that Canada shifted dramatically on May 2 and the repercussions of that shift are still being felt. Most noticeably, Stephen Harper and his majority government have taken full control of the country and are finally able to lead it in a direction they want to go. Of course, that direction might not be the best for Canada.

One disturbing pre-majority direction the government has continued traveling in is its towards more military spending. Spending money on the military is not necessarily a bad thing; with a state as large as Canada and a growing uncertainty over our control of the Arctic, some increase in military spending will be necessary in the coming years. However, the military strengthening envisioned by Harper takes a much more unrealistic view for Canada and Canada’s role in the world. Rather than looking to secure our own nation, Harper has determined to be prepared to act aggressively in other parts of the world.

One example is the defunding of coast guard stations in Newfoundland. Almost immediately, the Harper government shut down two coast guard stations along the east coast, limiting the ability of the coast guard to respond to fishermen in need in a timely manner. As a counterbalance to this cost-saving move, the government voted to extend Canada’s involvement in the Libyan civil war until at least September, eating up an estimated $60 million. For some reason, it makes more fiscal sense to spend millions of dollars blowing things up in a distant land than it does to provide jobs and protection to Canadians on the east coast.

If you are worried about the high cost of the Libyan mission though, the government also determined that funding a Canadian team to fly the NATO Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) radar missions over Libya to monitor the no-fly zone was too expensive. This mission – which is crucial in monitoring and controlling the no-fly zone over Libya – was deemed to be an unnecessary expense. However, Canada’s pseudo-combat role in bombing Libya with six CF-18s was continued. Whether you agree or disagree that we should stay involved, it’s difficult to see how it costs more to maintain one AWACS team flying a NATO plane than it does to maintain six Canadian CF-18 fighter jets.

Even if you accept that an AWACS team is too expensive to maintain but we have a responsibility to remain involved in a revolution in Libya with our combat planes, it is hardly fiscally responsible to begin planning to build Canadian military bases around the world. Reportedly, Germany and Jamaica have already agreed to allow Canadian military bases on their soil and talks are underway to build bases in Senegal, Kuwait, South Korea, and Singapore. The planning of these bases not only demonstrates the delusional view of Canadian military power the Conservative government has, but it will put a financial strain on all Canadians.     The astronomical cost of maintaining military bases around the world is one of the reasons that the United States is in such a poor financial position, and yet the Harper government is determined that Canada should follow America’s lead and station our military around the world.

Meanwhile, Canadians are sure to see cuts to social programs to fund this military adventurism, an adventurism that seems more at home in Washington than in Ottawa. With his delusional view of Canadian military power and his bizarre desire to prove Canada can police the world, it increasingly looks like Stephen Harper, not Michael Ignatieff, was the American in disguise in the last election.

Edward Dodd
Contributor

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