Canada’s Languishing Military Reflects Lacking Federal Leadership

By John Robson
John Robson
John Robson
John Robson is a documentary filmmaker, National Post columnist, contributing editor to the Dorchester Review, and executive director of the Climate Discussion Nexus. His most recent documentary is “The Environment: A True Story.”
January 24, 2022Updated: January 24, 2022


One good thing about having an atrophied military, you’d think, is at least it would be easy to staff. But you’d be wrong, in Canada anyway. The Canadian Press noted blithely the other day that we’re about 12,000 short of our feeble target strength of 100,000. Not to mention the 10,000 unavailable through illness, injury, or lack of training. So hey, let’s ask them to do everything including deliver COVID shots.

I shouldn’t have to point out here that with a major crisis brewing over Ukraine, and the Chinese Communist Party pondering invading Taiwan during this distraction, it might be helpful to be able to fight. But in Canada sometimes it seems that it is. So allow me to mention that Putin has about 100,000 troops massed on Ukraine’s border alone, out of his one million heavily armed active service and two million reserve personnel.

Some may say yes, well, Russia is big and rich while we are small and poor. But they would be drivelling. Geographically, Russia is twice as large as Canada. And its population of 144 million is bigger too, but just over three times ours. So why should their military be 30 times bigger?

As for its GDP, at US$1.71 trillion nominal it is smaller than our $2.016 trillion. It’s bigger by purchasing power parity, which suggests that GDP is hocus pocus. But not that we can’t afford a military a third their size rather than a 30th.

As the CP story observed, it’s not as though we decided to get rid of the armed forces because we didn’t need them anymore. Rather “the Canadian Armed Forces are struggling with a growing shortage of personnel even as the military faces more and more demands at home and abroad.” What demands exactly is unclear since we’ve withdrawn from peacekeeping and don’t fight. But we’re not getting wherever it is because, believe it or not, we closed recruiting centres and halted training due to COVID.

You probably do believe it, because Epoch Times readers know the core function of government in Canada is to preserve socialized medicine, not safeguard the lives and liberties of citizens. But it’s bungling even that job badly too. And more.

Periodically I am tempted to write columns that simply round up the week’s blazing government incompetence. Like pausing new invitations for badly needed skilled immigrant labour because the paperwork is so backlogged we can’t cope. Or the one where Public Services and Procurement Canada tries to recruit “influencers” to make our inability to build military ships on time or on budget sound like an achievement, including sizzling sample lines like, “The NSS (National Shipbuilding Strategy) has resulted in many social and economic benefits, from creating and sustaining more than 16,000 jobs annually to showcasing the innovations applied to shipbuilding” for these chumps to post and hope nobody smells a bureaucrat.

That ultrarich social justice warrior, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, would accept a free $1,895 chair then promote it online without realizing he’d be snagged for an obvious ethics violation suggests he might land that gig when his party realizes he’s a sanctimonious dud… and flub it too. Which brings up something larger that amazes me, over and over: how the newspaper is filled with tales of farcical state ineptitude cheek-by-jowl with stirring demands for the government to solve all our problems like some caped and mustachioed superhero.

OK, that one’s the latest propaganda for Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro, not our shipbuilding program. But we’re not much less ridiculous. On the military front alone we can’t even buy sidearms, let alone icebreakers or, heaven forbid, a warship. As for cyberdefence, hoo hah. And our vaunted integration of women produced not serried ranks of Amazons but an epidemic of sexual harassment we apparently can’t even try to stop, as in the RCMP.

As someone recently noted, the feds cannot so much as renovate the prime minister’s official residence, uninhabitable for six years now. Yet a startling number of Canadians think they can solve the national housing crisis they, um, caused, all while raising kids better than parents could. Though they can’t stop themselves from spending recklessly and printing money at a frantic pace to hold down their interest obligations, while the armed forces rot and the supply chain breaks down, along with socialized medicine, public universities, and even public schools, where dissent is crushed and test results are in freefall.

Solve the housing crisis? We’d be lucky to get the snow cleared. As for the core state function of protecting our lives, liberties, society, and system of self-government from foreign attack, well, we forgot to recruit an army or equip it. We were too busy taking selfies, commemorating rubbish international days of social justice, and spending money we didn’t have on things we didn’t know how to do. I mean, what could go wrong?

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.