Trudeau unprepared for modern threats

Canada faces an array of emerging threats spanning the globe. Russian aggression against Ukraine and our Baltic allies, an increasingly expansionist China, a nuclear-armed North Korea, an unstable Iran, cyber warfare, and transnational terrorism all point to the need for Canada to have a robustly trained and equipped military. As the efficacy of “soft power” wanes, more robust deterrence measures are necessary. Unfortunately, the Trudeau Liberals have proven they are not up to the task.

This is particularly concerning given the recent findings of the National Defence Strategy Commission’s report to the U.S. Congress which does not mince words concerning the outcome of the next major war: “The security and well-being of the United States are at greater risk than at any time in decades. … America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt.” In short, the leadership in the United States believes the U.S. could lose the next conventional war.

Additionally, the White House is withdrawing the U.S. from international conflicts and long-supported alliances as the American public tires of paying in blood and treasure for being the world’s strong man and police force.

It reminds me of the speech I heard in 2006 when then Australian prime minister John Howard addressed our Parliament with words that were almost prophetic: “…[A] retreating America will leave a more vulnerable world. It will leave the world more exposed to terrorism and it will leave a more fragile and indeed dangerous world.”

Today we have a more dangerous world indeed, and Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government are failing in their mandate to protect Canada and keep us safe.

The Liberals have ignored reality and assumed dependence on the United States to defend Canada in the event of a crisis at a time when the U.S. is withdrawing. As a result, the Liberals have allowed our military’s deterrence capabilities to erode to dangerous levels and their defence plan, Strong Secure and Engaged (SSE) failed to assess the threat environment Canada is actually facing.

The Trudeau government has allowed billions in funding to lapse, $2.5-billion this year alone, and has not provided enough funding under SSE to pay for the Navy’s and Air Force’s new military equipment that would bring our armed forces up to the standard expected of a respectable military.

SSE altogether omits any mention of how the Liberals propose to defend Canada against the global proliferation of submarines and missile weapons systems. It’s not good enough to only detect these threats, Canada needs to be able to counter them.

Conservatives believe that adding ballistic missile defence to the NORAD mandate is the direction Canada should be moving, but the Liberals do not seem to have this reality on their radar. Nor does the Trudeau government realize that the best way to counter submarines is with submarines. They have no plan in SSE to replace the leaky used subs bought during the Chretien era.

Trudeau’s absence of commitment to protect Canada was on full display when he rushed out to buy used Australian fighter jets, older than our current fleet, and has failed to even start the competition for modern fighter jets capable of matching those of our adversaries. Yet another Liberal procurement mess that has serious security implications for Canada and our NATO and NORAD allies. By chronically under-funding our military, Trudeau has imperiled our ability to match our commitments to these alliances despite his rhetoric and promises to the contrary.

Trudeau is seen by the U.S. and our other allies as a light-weight player on the world stage, wholly incapable of standing up a properly funded and equipped military able to contribute meaningfully to international peace and stability. Canada’s NATO funding aspirations have stagnated around one per cent. Our Navy is waiting for new ships, our Air Force is waiting for real fighter jets, our allies are waiting for Canada to step up and deliver, and Canadians are waiting for real leadership.

Andrew Scheer and a new Conservative government will keep us safe by strengthening our Canadian Armed Forces, honouring our commitments to our NATO allies and enhancing our participation in NORAD.

If our trusted alliances, like NATO and NORAD, are going to survive in this complex threat environment, Canada needs to do more, spend more, and defend more. Otherwise our national security, economic prosperity and democratic institutions will be at risk.