Election 2015 means that Canada once again gets to hear from the various political parties on the issue of National Defence. Sometimes such platforms bring vision, a new direction. Such was the case with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s promise of three heavy armed icebreakers for the Canadian Navy. Other times the platforms reveal policies that would lead to weakness in the military, cuts that would reduce the capability or capacity of our ability to respond in time of need.
Esprit de Corp magazine has published a link to the four Party’s various defence policies on their website, so let’s take a look at the policies and how they might affect the Canadian Forces and Canada.
Liberal Party of Canada
The Defence Platform of The Liberal Party of Canada is disappointing. It is essentially empty. Eight paragraphs describe the various failures of the Harper/Conservative Government as related to National Defence.
We then come to the meat:
“If elected, a Trudeau Liberal government will bring real change to defence policy by de-politicizing it, and consulting in good faith with all parties to determine the kinds of missions we are likely to ask our armed forces to undertake over both the short and long-term.
We will fix the broken procurement system to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces gets the right equipment to carry out the missions that they are likely to undertake, at the right price for taxpayers, while delivering important industrial regional benefits to provide good jobs for Canadians across the country.
Canadians expect our troops to be treated with respect, and that will be a top priority for our government. We will live up to our responsibility to protect those who protect us; review and fix gaps in support of injured CAF members; provide medical, psychological and logistical support to military families; and ensure all needed medical positions are filled.
The Harper decade has left the Canadian Armed Forces under-equipped, under-trained and without a clear mandate. A Liberal government can and will do better. That’s real change.”
That is all, nothing more.
I wish I could do a point-by-point review of the policy, I really do. I want to find a Party that has a policy on this crucial issue that gives me hope. The best I can say about the Liberal Policy is that it leaves one the impression it was written by someone who has read Canadian Forces Technical Orders:
“This Page Intentionally Left Blank”
Final Grade: Incomplete, Not Submitted (Modified to : D)
On 24/August/2015 in a policy announcement the Liberal Party announced a major upgrade of the way Veterans would be treated. Benefits include; an option to receive a lifetime pension instead of a lump-sum, support for families, re-opening closed Veterans Centres and the hiring of many new VA staff. The policy adequately deals with issues Veterans have found vexatious, but leaves open (for now) anything to do with actual defence.
Final, Final Grade: Incomplete, Not Submitted (Modified to : D-)
In September, three releases by the Liberal Party of Canada had great effect on how I grade their Defence Policy. First was a strong Defence Platform, so strong that I was going to update the Final Grade to a B. Then comes a press release from the Liberal Defence Critic “The Real Conservative Record On Defence” that I hadn’t seen before came to my attention. It’s from May, so not sure how I missed it. Granted, May was a pretty hectic time for me. I was probably off my game a bit. Then we have the LPC costing of their platform on 26th September. The net result: basically the LPC acknowledges there are severe problems… and chooses to ignore them. That gets them a solid, well-deserved “D-” in my books. Defence is not an issue you can choose to ignore. Ignoring the issue doesn’t make it go away, it makes service members go away. It’s a good thing they plan for VAC improvements… they’ll need them. A poorly equipped and trained military is not cheap, it’s expensive. It costs lives.
If it seem strange that spending under LPC and CPC will be similar (as it is for NDP) and yet LPC gets a harder ride: Neither CPC nor NDP tries to score political points over the low funding. I believe this post adequately expresses my disdain for those who would make that attempt, but make no commitment to correcting the problem.
Leadership is seeing a problem and fixing it. It is not seeing a problem and calculating votes.