Connect with us

armed forces

From swaggering to staggering – Canada’s decline into irrelevance


7 minute read

From the MacDonald Laurier Institute

By Philip Cross

It’s remarkable how much our international reputation has faded over the past 10 years, both diplomatically and economically.

It is remarkable how much attitudes about Canada have shifted, both here and abroad, over the past 10 years. A decade ago, riding the wave of a booming economy, Canada was widely admired for a banking system that had got through the 2008-2009 global financial crisis without government bailouts. Today the country’s global stature is much diminished and Canadians are rapidly losing confidence in their economic prospects.

In the years leading up to 2016 Canadians grew accustomed to global accolades. In a 2003 cover story, The Economist touted the prospects for “cool Canada,” following up in 2006 that Canada’s relative economic performance made it a “superstar” as the “only country running both current-account and budget surpluses.” Steve Poloz, then chief economist at EDC, said in 2005 the stars were aligned for Canadian firms to achieve the “productivity miracle” already realized in the U.S. In 2012, the OECD secretariat forecast Canada’s economic growth would lead the G7 nations over the next 50 years. Our AAA credit rating, stable economy and resource riches prompted the IMF in 2012 to recommend central banks hold more currency reserves in Canadian dollars, leading to headlines about “loonie set to join global currency elite” as a safe haven in turbulent times.

A Maclean’s article reporting 2011 poll results proclaimed Canada was “on top of the world” and “Canadians have never felt so upbeat about the future.” A year later, Joe O’Connor could claim in this newspaper that “Canada’s got swagger.” This confidence was reinforced when Britain hired Mark Carney in 2012 as the first foreign-born governor of the Bank of England, calling him the “best central banker of his generation.” On the global stage, in 2016 U.S. President Barack Obama told Parliament: “the world needs more Canada.”

A stable banking system was not Canada’s only perceived financial advantage. Some analysts predicted Toronto would become a major trading centre for the North American cap-and-trade carbon market. Moody’s Analytics projected Toronto’s financial services industry would employ more people than London’s by 2017. Tiff Macklem, then dean of the Rotman School, wrote an op-ed in 2016 touting Toronto’s “potential to become the leading global fintech hub.”

That was then. Today Canada’s reality is much different than people were expecting before 2015. Its finance sector is known for being “an ATM and safe deposit box for money laundering,” according to Jonathan Manthorpe in his 2019 book,  Claws of the Panda. In 2018, The Economist noted that Canada “has long had a reputation as a place to snow-wash money.” Regulation is split between federal and provincial governments and there are almost no restrictions on lawyers involved in laundering.

Instead of buoyant economic growth, the OECD last year downgraded Canada’s prospects to 2060 to dead last out of 38 nations. In a 2019 feature, The Economist noted that the top Canadian firm on Fortune’s list of the world’s largest companies ranked 241st, concluding that our “economy and business culture will have to become more American.”

Nothing has damaged Canada’s economy and global stature more than the obstacles governments have deployed to hamper our energy industry. In 2011, the late Jim Prentice, then vice-chairman of CIBC, reviewed the slew of Canadian energy projects then underway, from hydro in Labrador to Alberta’s oil sands, and concluded “no one else is bringing on energy projects on the pace and scale of Canada.” Today, by contrast, British Columbia and Quebec are struggling to meet electricity demand, while the oil sands have slashed investment.

The harm from discouraging oil and gas development was fully revealed after Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Canada was unable to answer Europe’s desperate need for oil and gas. When German Chancellor Scholz visited Canada to plead for more natural gas, our prime minister claimed there was “no business case” to support LNG exports to Europe. Meanwhile, since March 2022, American firms have signed now fewer than 57 supply agreements with Europe for 73 million metric tons of LNG annually, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal.

A recent Nanos poll found even fewer Canadians (just 13 per cent) thought our global reputation had improved than were satisfied with the state of our economy (23 per cent). The Wall Street Journal said last year that Canada’s paltry defence spending should disqualify us from G7 membership, while Spain is openly lobbying to take our place. We have become irrelevant to the geopolitics of our natural allies, whether the problem at hand is the growing rivalry between the U.S. on the one hand and Russia and China on the other or the EU’s fixation on rectifying its energy and defence deficits.

More broadly, Canada has failed in its traditional role of explaining the U.S. to the rest of the world. Though it’s strange to recall, immediately after Donald Trump’s election in 2016, the hope was Trudeau would be the “Trump Whisperer,” establishing Canada as an “indispensable nation,” to quote Maclean’s Scott Gilmore. Instead, we have reverted to our traditional sense of moral superiority over Americans and now parrot the global chorus condemning the direction of U.S. politics. We have a plan for dealing with Trump, the prime minister assures us. Good luck to us with that.

Philip Cross is a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

Todayville is a digital media and technology company. We profile unique stories and events in our community. Register and promote your community event for free.

Follow Author

armed forces

Canada’s first ‘transgender’ military chaplain suspended for alleged sexual harassment

Published on

From LifeSiteNews

By Calvin Freiburger

Canadian Armed Forces Captain ‘Beatrice’ Gale reportedly sought to grope a male soldier while drunk and was suspended just a few weeks after the Canadian military promoted him for ‘International Transgender Day of Visibility.’

Canadian Department of National Defence has suspended a “transgender” military chaplain it previously celebrated after he reportedly sought to grope a male soldier at the Royal Military College while drunk.

On March 28, the government highlighted Canadian Armed Forces Captain “Beatrice” Gale, a man who “identifies” as a woman, for “International Transgender Day of Visibility.” The military’s “first openly transgender chaplain” has been “a vocal advocate” for the so-called “rights” of transgender-identifying members, according to the press release, resulting “in policy changes that contributed to more inclusive gender-affirming medical care for CAF members.”

“I hope that being a transgender chaplain [sic] sends a message to the 2SLGBTQI+ community that the Royal Canadian Chaplain Service cares,” he said. “That it cares for that community.”

Just weeks later, however, the chaplain is generating a different kind of publicity.

True North reports that Gale’s chaplaincy has been revoked following a hearing finding he made an “inappropriate comment or request to another individual.”

Gale was determined to have violated the Queen’s Regulations and Orders by “behav[ing] in a manner that adversely affects the discipline, efficiency or morale of the Canadian Forces.” The specific details of the offense have not been officially confirmed, but, according to an anonymous source, he became inebriated at dinner and asked to grope a male lieutenant’s buttocks.

“The mandate for Captain Gale to serve as a Canadian military chaplain remains suspended. The Chaplain General will consider the implications of the summary hearing’s outcome to determine if additional administrative actions within their authority are required,” said DND spokesperson Andrée-Anne Poulin. Gale was docked two days pay and 20 days leave and is currently on administrative duty.

He added that he once had a client who “was not granted the same leniency for much less serious alleged infractions. However, in the case of a transgender offender who held a position of trust as a padre and a senior in rank, the matter was simply swept under the rug.”

As is the case in the United States, Canada’s armed forces are currently struggling to attract recruits in the wake of adopting “woke” policies such as COVID-19 shot mandates, “climate change” lectures, and pro-LGBT “identity” initiatives.

The DND declared last month that increased “diversity and inclusivity” are “vital” to creating an effective military and that they “enrich the workplace.”

Continue Reading

armed forces

Canadians are finally waking up to the funding crisis that’s sent the Canadian Armed Forces into a “death spiral”

Published on

From the Macdonald Laurier Institute

By By J.L. Granatstein

Must we wait for Trump to attack free trade between Canada and the US before our politicians get the message that defence matters to Washington?

Nations have interests – national interests – that lay out their ultimate priorities. The first one for every country is to protect its population and territory. It is sometimes hard to tell, but this also applies to Canada. Ottawa’s primary job is to make sure that Canada and Canadians are safe. And Canada also has a second priority: to work with our allies to protect their and our freedom. As we share this continent with the United States, this means that we must pay close attention to our neighbouring superpower.

Regrettably for the last six decades or so we have not done this very well. During the 1950s, the Liberal government of Louis St. Laurent in some years spent more than 7 percent of GDP on defence, making Canada the most militarily credible of the middle powers. His successors whittled down defence spending and cut the numbers of troops, ships, and aircraft. By the end of the Cold War, in the early 1990s, our forces had shrunk, and their equipment was increasingly obsolescent.

Another Liberal prime minister, Jean Chrétien, balanced the budget in 1998 by slashing the military even more, and by getting rid of most of the procurement experts at the Department of National Defence, he gave us many of the problems the Canadian Armed Forces face today. Canadians and their governments wanted social security measures, not troops with tanks, and they got their wish.

There was another factor of significant importance, though it is one usually forgotten. Lester Pearson’s Nobel Peace Prize for helping to freeze the Suez Crisis of 1956 convinced Canadians that they were natural-born peacekeepers. Give a soldier a blue beret and an unloaded rifle and he could be the representative of Canada as the moral superpower we wanted to be. The Yanks fought wars, but Canada kept the peace, or so we believed, and Canada for decades had servicemen and women in every peacekeeping operation.

There were problems with this. First, peacekeeping didn’t really work that well. It might contain a conflict, but it rarely resolved one – unless the parties to the dispute wanted peace. In Cyprus, for example, where Canadians served for three decades, neither the Greek- or Turkish-Cypriots wanted peace; nor did their backers in Athens and Ankara. The Cold War’s end also unleashed ethnic nationalisms, and Yugoslavia, for one, fractured into conflicts between Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Christians, and Muslims, leading to all-out war. Peacekeepers tried to hold the lid on, but it took NATO to bash heads to bring a truce if not peace.

And there was a particular Canadian problem with peacekeeping. If all that was needed was a stock of blue berets and small arms, our governments asked, why spend vast sums on the military? Peacekeeping was cheap, and this belief sped up the budget cuts.

Even worse, the public believed the hype and began to resist the idea that the Canadian Armed Forces should do anything else. For instance, the Chrétien government took Canada into Afghanistan in 2001 to participate in what became a war to dislodge the Taliban, but huge numbers of Canadians believed that this was really only peacekeeping with a few hiccups.

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government nonetheless gave the CAF the equipment it needed to fight in Afghanistan, and the troops did well. But the casualties increased as the fighting went on, and Harper pulled Canada out of the conflict well before the Taliban seized power again in 2021.

Harper’s successor, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, clearly has no interest in the military except as a somewhat rogue element that needs to be tamed, made comfortable for its members, and to act as a social laboratory with quotas for visible minorities and women.

Is this an exaggeration? This was Trudeau’s mandate letter to his defence minister in December 2021: “Your immediate priority is to take concrete steps to build an inclusive and diverse Defence Team, characterized by a healthy workplace free from harassment, discrimination, sexual misconduct, and violence.” DND quickly permitted facial piercings, coloured nail polish, beards, long hair, and, literally, male soldiers in skirts, so long as the hem fell below the knees. This was followed by almost an entire issue of the CAF’s official publication, Canadian Military Journal, devoted to culture change in the most extreme terms. You can’t make this stuff up.

Thus, our present crisis: a military short some 15,000 men and women, with none of the quotas near being met. A defence minister who tells a conference the CAF is in a “death spiral” because of its inability to recruit soldiers. (Somehow no one in Ottawa connects the culture change foolishness to a lack of recruits.) Fighter pilots, specialized sailors, and senior NCOs, their morale broken, taking early retirement. Obsolete equipment because of procurement failures and decade-long delays. Escalating costs for ships, aircraft, and trucks because every order requires that domestic firms get their cut, no matter if that hikes prices even higher. The failure to meet a NATO accord, agreed to by Canada, that defence spending be at least 2 percent of GDP, and no prospect that Canada will ever meet this threshold.

But something has changed.

Three opinion polls at the beginning of March all reported similar results: the Canadian public – worried about Russia and Putin’s war against Ukraine, and anxious about China, North Korea, and Iran (all countries with undemocratic regimes and, Iran temporarily excepted, nuclear weapons) – has noticed at last that Canada is unarmed and undefended. Canadians are watching with concern as Ottawa is scorned by its allies in NATO, Washington, and the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance.

At the same time, official Department of National Defence documents laid out the alarming deficiencies in the CAF’s readiness: too few soldiers ready to respond to crises and not enough equipment that is in working order for those that are ready.

The bottom line? Canadians finally seem willing to accept more spending on defence.

The media have been hammering at the government’s shortcomings. So have retired generals. General Rick Hillier, the former chief of the defence staff, was especially blunt: “[The CAF’s] equipment has been relegated to sort-of-broken equipment parked by the fence. Our fighting ships are on limitations to the speed that they can sail or the waves that they can sail in. Our aircraft, until they’re replaced, they’re old and sort of not in that kind of fight anymore. And so, I feel sorry for the men and women who are serving there right now.”

The Trudeau government has repeatedly demonstrated that it simply does not care. It offers more money for the CBC and for seniors’ dental care, pharmaceuticals, and other vote-winning objectives, but nothing for defence (where DND’s allocations astonishingly have been cut by some $1 billion this year and at least the next two years). There is no hope for change from the Liberals, their pacifistic NDP partners, or from the Bloc Québécois.

The Conservative Party, well ahead in the polls, looks to be in position to form the next government. What will they do for the military? So far, we don’t know – Pierre Poilievre has been remarkably coy. The Conservative leader has said he wants to cut wasteful spending and eliminate foreign aid to dictatorial regimes and corrupted UN agencies like UNRWA. He says he will slash the bureaucracy and reform the procurement shambles in Ottawa, and he will “work towards” spending on the CAF to bring us to the equivalent of 2 percent of GDP. His staff say that Poilievre is not skeptical about the idea of collective security and NATO; rather, he is committed to balancing the books.

What this all means is clear enough. No one should expect that a Conservative government will move quickly to spend much more on defence than the Grits. A promise to “work towards” 2 percent is not enough, and certainly not if former US President Donald Trump ends up in the White House again. Must we wait for Trump to attack free trade between Canada and the US before our politicians get the message that defence matters to Washington? Unfortunately, it seems so, and Canadians will not be able to say that they weren’t warned. After all, it should be obvious that it is in our national interest to protect ourselves.

J.L. Granatstein taught Canadian history, was Director and CEO of the Canadian War Museum, and writes on military and political history. His most recent book is Canada’s Army: Waging War and Keeping the Peace. (3rd edition).

Continue Reading