Posts Tagged ‘Military’

If trouble comes?

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

We live a very peaceful life in Canada. It was surprising though the other day when in an interview on Global Television, Tom Clark asked Ottawa’s chief of the defence staff his major concern for Canadians. Without hesitation, General Tom Lawson said his main concern was a natural disaster. He made no reference to any threats from the jihadists of the Middle East. He did note that we were well protected by moats on the east and west of our country known as the Atlantic and Pacific, as well as on the north.

The natural follow up to that answer was obviously the nature of the natural disaster that can cause concern. The General and his interviewer left that to our imagination.

What the answer did was make a lie of the Conservative government’s security legislation that is intended to convince Canadians of the threat from home grown terrorists. It is almost as though the party in power is looking for a Canadian 9-11 event that will make Canadians accept the Conservative’s police-state.

All that Canadians have witnessed to-date has been the occasional mentally ill individual taking on police, shooting a soldier or otherwise seeking attention. In a country of over 35 million people, that type of event flies under the radar of many citizens.

But what are General Lawson’s military personnel able to do if trouble comes? If the disaster in Lac Mègantic for example had taken place in Montreal, it would have taken a major effort by Canada’s army to assist local authorities to provide aid and order when casualties could be in the tens of thousands.

And when you consider the growing numbers of abnormal weather events across North America, you start to wonder just how prepared Canada’s military is to provide the necessary assistance. Sure, we had a good laugh some years ago about Toronto’s mayor calling in the army because of a larger than usual snowfall, yet the army seemed as confused as the mayor about what to do about it.

We have a federal government that has not only been ignoring climate change but accelerating it on behalf of their friends in the oil and gas industry. The unusual in the weather department seems to be becoming the norm.

The question is whether the Canadian military is as prepared as it could be? It is the Conservative’s penchant for taking funds from where they might not be noticed that worries us. Are we really properly prepared if trouble comes?


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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Harper heads for the past.

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

It was 44 years ago, on an Air Canada flight to Toronto from Ottawa, Group Captain Bill Lee, sitting in the adjacent seat, explained his idea of how to combine the Canadian military.  Bill was, at the time, Defence Minister Paul Hellyer’s executive assistant.  As far as national issues went, it did not seem to be of much urgency.

Bill saw the move as an attention getter to make Paul Hellyer the next Prime Minister at the 1968 Liberal Party convention.  Bill had not factored in the role Pierre Trudeau would play in that convention.  Mind you, Paul went a good ten rounds against the more recalcitrant of Canada’s admirals until he forced some retirements and the Canadian Forces became unified.

Now, four decades later, Prime Minister Harper wants to restore the Canadian Forces to their supposed former glory as the Royal Canadian Navy, The Royal Canadian Air Force and a stand-alone Canadian Army with its various ‘Royal’ regiments.  Just who he is going to impress with this is not clear.  We are not even sure that the Monarchist League really care about it.

Frankly, it is our observation that people in the Canadian Forces will hardly give a damn.  With the small sample of Base Borden military personnel we have talked with in recent years, we find no interest in the history of the separate forces.  A person, for example, in a blue air element uniform said he was a major, when we identified the two wide stripes and one narrow stripe on his uniform sleeve as being a squadron leader.  He had no idea what a squadron leader’s rank meant.

Mind you, this simplified rank structure can deceive someone who has served in the military.  Once, at a cocktail party in Ottawa, we had a pleasant chat with a fellow who was introduced as a lieutenant general.  Having previously served in the Canadian Air Force, it would have been a much more awkward conversation if he had been introduced in his Air Force rank as an Air Vice-Marshall.

Bill Lee and Paul Hellyer told us that it would save money to combine the Canadian forces more than 40 years ago.  When the silliness is officially announced later this month, Harper and his Defence Minister are going to tell the Canadian public that it will not cost very much to have three separate military services.  It will be just like when we were told that it would not cost very much to host the G8 and G20 last year.


All material in this blog is copyright © Peter Lowry

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Chronicling Canada’s angst in Afghanistan.

Monday, July 11th, 2011

They sent Toronto Star reporter Rosie Dimanno to Afghanistan to report on our Canadian troops.  She is no Rudyard Kipling but she was the best available.  She told us that our soldiers acted like soldiers.  They killed and were killed.  She shed a tear for those who left their blood to mark their passing.

Rosie discovered that Canadian soldiers know how to be soldiers.  She honours death and puts down peacekeeping.  She spreads the Harper government propaganda.

But we did not need to join her in her travels to know that she is wrong.  For the past two hundred years, nobody has marched up the Khyber Pass to glory.  The Brits, in their red coats, marched to Afghanistan and died.  The Russians, with their brutality, died.  The Americans searched for Osama bin Laden and died.  There is no honour to be gained in Afghanistan.  There are opium growers and warlords.  They are neither good friends nor worthy enemies.

Canada went to Afghanistan to please the Americans.  Canada went at the cost of soldiers lives.  It is hard to accept the cost.

When Canadians went to fight the Boers with the Brits, when they joined in the salient at Ypres, when they were the cannon fodder for the raid on Dieppe, took arms for the United Nations in Korea, they answered the call.  Through world wars and police actions, Canadians have more than proved themselves as warriors.  We hardly needed to add the dust of Afghanistan to prove anything to anybody.

The Harper government played up the soldiers’ efforts to build schools, to help the women in a land that defies time and the training provided its police.  All of it is for naught.  Memories fade fast in a land without conscience.

When the last soldier is home, Canadians will also forget.  There will be no monuments, no battle flags and no day of remembrance for Afghanistan.  We achieved nothing.  We gained no honour.   We let soldiers die for nothing.  Can we remember shame?


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