This weeks events in France and Nigeria are reminders that the world has changed since the last Federal election in Canada. The loss of life in France was horrible, yet it pales in comparison to the loss in Nigeria and other parts of the world. All lives matter regardless of where they are. While small attacks in rich countries get massive coverage, the massive attacks in poorer countries gets very little coverage. Yet, many of those besieged, failing, exploited countries are providing the inspiration for attacks in the rich countries.
Our Prime Minister recently said the extremists have declared war on us. If that is his view why are we not on a war footing, why has Stephen Harper’s government not brought in any war measures? On the contrary, this government still continues to provide aid and comfort to the enemy. Legislation that violates basic human rights, using scarce security/defence resources for corporate profits or vote buying schemes, and failure to support the Arms Trade Treaty all benefit the terrorists. This current government has done little to prevent the terrorists’ tactics of seeding division or of thwarting extremists of all kinds, after all it is their prefered method of winning votes.
It would be nice in the next election to actually see candidates speak and debate intelligently about what threatens Canada from within or abroad. Of the domestic threats are the increasing levels of ignorance about our politics, world, and ability to see other points of view. Combine ignorance with the pandering to prejudices, the corruption, the ideological tribalism, the extremism, or the arrogant holier than thou attitudes and I wonder how much longer Canada can be considered a Democracy.
Politics is supposed to be about debating policy that is the best for everyone, so here are some suggested policies. If we are in a war situation, then let us introduce war measures to ensure victory that doesn’t leave us ruined in the process. Start by signing the Arms Trade Treaty and implementing it within thirty days of the election with a budget to enforce it. Nationalize the arms industry in Canada and put every sale before Parliament for scrutiny, combine this with wage controls and keeping manufacturing locations from becoming partisan. Give domestic security legislation that respects the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, our most potent weapon, and give security resources to defeat extremists.
Security and policing can not win alone, they need education, job prospects, an end to institutionalized prejudices, and most importantly reliable information. The networks of extremists do not see national boundaries and that is why we need a foreign intelligence service to provide our domestic security information outside its jurisdiction.
Being Canadian let’s use a hockey analogy; if a team stays in their end and blocks shots for sixty minutes will they win? It is unCanadian to sit back and let the other side control the game. We need to get actively engaged in destroying the extremists outside of Canada and no, dropping bombs from 10,000 meters or training Kurds to fight for us isn’t getting engaged, it is impotence. Canada needs to use intelligence assets to infiltrate, divide, and disrupt extremist groups. Cutting off their supplies, their sources of new recruits and communications will save lives.
Another policy option is to return Canadian Forces personnel to Nigeria but in larger numbers. The base that hosted members of Canada’s Special Operations Regiment is now in the hands of Boko Haram. Canada should start bringing Nigerian military units here for retraining, and re equipping. Just giving money to Nigeria isn’t working as the sharp end soldiers see nothing of it. Along with training Nigerians, and others from that region of Africa, Canada should send a reinforced heavy brigade group to Nigeria with a ground support wing. Of course this will mean cancelling the F-35 in favour of aircraft that might actually worry Boko Haram militants.
Many Canadians want us to return to Peacekeeping missions, yet most of the current missions require heavy weaponry than our army currently lacks or lacks quantity. In order to be effective in peacekeeping missions our forces will need to expand and increase the training budget, have a clear idea of what kind of missions to expect and how long to plan deployments for. A force sent should strike fear in the opposing factions, not be a speed bump on the way to slaughter enemy civilians. Or as in some cases over the last decade peacekeepers that commit more atrocities than the warring sides.
Much will happen before the fixed election date, possibly an earlier election, it would be easy to get distracted by trivia such as personality, shiny election promises, partisanship, and so on. However, those wishing to be our government should not be allowed to avoid discussing their security policies, it is one of the Federal government’s primary responsibility. Far too often buying toys and rhetorical nonsense has been substituted for a defence strategy or security policy. This election let’s demand better.