Canada is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, a diverse, law-abiding and peace-loving citizenry with a quality of life that consistently ranks among the best. Canadians also have a deeply held sense of security given Canada’s enviable geography, three oceans, and a friendly great power as a neighbour, which staves off the insecurity which sadly afflicts many nations.
However, Canada does not exist in a bubble and its security and prosperity are only guaranteed through collective security and defence arrangements that properly function if countries live up to the ideals of the UN Charter, abide by an international system of rules and respect laws, treaties and agreements.
Canada’s security and freedoms cannot be taken for granted. With over 100,000 war dead in the great wars of the 20th century, Canada must be ready and willing to use all elements of national power including military force to deter adversaries and defend its territory and vital national interests whenever and wherever they are threatened. With this imperative comes the responsibility of sharing the burden of these efforts alongside the United States in North America, NATO allies in Europe, and partners around the globe. Canada is fortunate to have close and productive relations with a large number of like minded allies; but even our critical Five-Eyes relationships require that we invest sufficiently to earn our seat at the table.
Among the most important responsibilities of the federal government is the need to protect the safety and security of its citizens, defend Canadian sovereignty and maintain our territorial integrity. However, in recent decades, issues of national security and defence are rarely treated as a priority other than in times of great peril. Years of restraint, cost cutting, downsizing and deferred investments, have meant that Canada’s defence capabilities have atrophied. Our military capabilities are outdated and woefully inadequate to protect our landmass and maritime approaches. We have also fallen short in meaningful contributions to burden sharing for the collective defence and security of our allies and partners.
As we bear witness to the horrific events in Ukraine and monitor the current tensions between the US and China, Canadians may not feel directly threatened. This is understandable. Elected governments focus their attention and resources on bread and butter issues – jobs, health care, education, the environment and public safety. Nevertheless, focusing on these important domestic issues should not come at the expense of sufficient investments in national security and defence. Regrettably, the recent federal budget was largely a summary of previous announcements without any acknowledgement that the Government must accelerate program spending, and make significant additional funding available to address the long-standing deficiencies in military capabilities and readiness.
Over several decades there have been many announcements and commitments by governments to strengthen national defence in policies such as the Canada First Defence Strategy (CFDS) and in Strong Secure Engaged (SSE). Recent announcements by Defence Minister Anand on acquiring replacements for the 40-year-old fleet of CF18s and modernising NORAD are steps in the right direction. In the current security environment, much more is required and the Government of Canada’s track-record for keeping pace with these developments falls well short of expectations. Critically, the Government needs to invest in improving DND’s ability to spend its budget in an expeditious and timely manner.
The Defence Policy update is lagging and comes at a time of great peril for global peace and security given the threats posed by China and Russia. Russia’s brutal war of aggression in Ukraine, the first major conflict in Europe since the Second World War, as well as the continuing expansion of the military arsenals of authoritarian regimes willing to use force to achieve their revanchist policies should have prompted a major re-assessment of our defence posture.
Canada cannot afford to conduct ‘business as usual’. We strongly encourage Prime Minister Trudeau, his Cabinet and the Government to lead and act with a sense of urgency and heed the recent call of the NATO Secretary General to treat 2% of GDP as a floor rather than a ceiling for defence spending. The Government must radically accelerate the timelines for procurement and redress the poor state of our nation’s current defence capacity, capabilities and state of readiness with massive support for operations, training and in particular for recruitment. We believe this could be best accomplished on a non-partisan basis and would have broad public support.
There is no more important responsibility for the federal government than protecting Canadians against all threats – foreign and domestic. Now is the time to fully discharge the commitments we have made to our allies and partners in sharing the burden of the collective security; commitments which are essential to safeguard our peace, prosperity and way of life.
CDA Institute Honoraries
The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Former Chief Justice SCC
The Honourable Peter MacKay, Former Minister National Defence
The Honourable David Pratt, Former Minister National Defence
General (Ret’d) Raymond Henault, Former Chair NATO MC, Chief of the Defence Staff
Ambassador (Ret’d) Yves Brodeur, Former Ambassador to NATO
Ambassador (Ret’d) Deborah Lyons, Former UN Special Rep UNAMA Afghanistan
Blake Goldring, Former Honorary Col Cdn Army, Executive Chairman AGF Management
Richard Fadden, Former National Security Advisor and Deputy Minister National Defence
Chiko Nanji, CEO Metro Supply Chain Group
Former Premiers, Ministers and Senators
The Honourable Anne McLellan , Former Deputy Prime Minister
The Honourable John Manley, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Honourable Darrell Dexter, Former Premier of Nova Scotia
The Honourable Perrin Beatty, Former Minister of National Defence
The Honourable John McCallum, Former Minister of National Defence
The Honourable David Collenette, Former Minister of National Defence, Chairman of the NATO Association of Canada
The Honourable Jason Kenney, Former Minister of National Defence
The Honourable Andrew Leslie, Former Chief Whip, Commander Canadian Army
The Honourable Senator Peter Harder, Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Honourable Colin Kenny, Senator (Ret’d), Founding Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence
The Honourable Dan Lang, Senator (Ret’d)
The Honourable Joseph Day, Senator (Ret’d)
Former Chiefs of the Defence Staff, Deputy Ministers, Ambassadors, and senior public servants
Mel Cappe, Former Clerk of the Privy Council and UK High Commissioner
General (Ret’d) Paul Manson
General (Ret’d) John de Chastelain, Former Ambassador to the US
Admiral (Ret’d) John Anderson, Former NATO Ambassador
General (Ret’d) Jean Boyle
General (Ret’d) Maurice Baril
General (Ret’d) Rick Hillier
General (Ret’d) Walter Natynczyk
General (Ret’d) Tom Lawson
Ambassador (Ret) Lucie Edwards, Former High Commissioner of Canada for India and South Africa
Ambassador (Ret’d) Robert Fowler, Former Foreign Policy Advisor, Deputy Minister of National Defence
Ambassador (Ret) Sabine Nölke, Former Ambassador the Netherlands and Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
Ambassador (Ret’d) Chris Shapardanov, Former Ambassador to Finland
Ward Elcock, Former Director CSIS, Deputy Minister of National Defence
Margaret Bloodworth, Former Deputy Minister of National Defence, Deputy Minister of Public Safety and National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister
Daniel Jean, Former National Security and Intelligence Advisor to the Prime Minister, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
Vincent Rigby, Former National Security and Intelligence Advisor to the Prime Minister
John Forster, Former Chief CSE, Deputy Minister of National Defence
Roland Paris, Former Senior Advisor (Global Affairs and Defence) to the Prime Minister
Jim Mitchell, Former Senior Public Servant
James Paul, Former Chief Executive Officer of Defence Construction Canada (DCC)
CDA Institute Board of Directors & CDA Executive
LGen (Ret’d) Guy Thibault, Former Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, President of the CDA
Ambassador (Ret’d) Gordon Venner, Former Senior Associate DM National Defence
Ambassador (Ret’d) Kerry Buck, Former NATO Ambassador
Mike Hamilton, Senior Vice President RBC Insurance
Naresh Raghubeer, Managing Partner Sandstone Group
Renée Filiatrault, Former Foreign Service Officer
Dr. Stéfanie von Hlatky, Queen’s University Centre for International and Defence Policy
HCol Jeff Westeinde, President Zibi Canada
LGen (Ret’d) Christine Whitecross, Former Chief of Military Personnel
LGen (Ret’d) Marquis Hainse, Former Commander Canadian Army
LGen (Ret’d) André Deschamps, Former Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force
VAdm (Ret’d) Drew Robertson, Former Commander Royal Canadian Navy
VAdm (Ret’d) Darren Hawco, Former NATO Military Representative
VAdm (Ret’d) Mark Norman, Former Commander Royal Canadian Navy
VAdm (Re’d) Bob Davidson, Former NATO Military Representative
VAdm (Ret’d) Denis Rouleau, Former Chair CDA, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff
MGen (Ret’d) Steve Noonan, Former Commander of Canadian Operational Support Command
MGen (Ret’d) Michel Lalumiere, former Chief Fighter Capability
Dr. Youri Cormier, Adj. Professor Royal Military College of Canada & CDA Executive Director