Election 2015: Devising new defence platforms (Part 3)

In this final edition, Steve Saideman imagines a new platform for the Conservatives. The last but “hardest to write,” he says.

By: /
24 September, 2015
Focus on the Forces: Stephen Harper at a military base in Kuwait. May 3, 2015. (Reuters)
Stephen Saideman
By: Stephen Saideman

Paterson Chair in International Affairs, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs

A couple of weeks ago, I was frustrated that the major parties had not articulated Defence platforms so I wrote one for the Liberals and then one for the NDP, and then the Liberals came out with their statement.

I left the Conservative platform for last.  Why?  Because it is the hardest to write.  Why?  Because it could simply be “more of the same” but the government has been beaten up many times over the past nine years for procurement problems and for never developing a significant defence review despite changing world circumstances.

The (imagined) Conservative defence platform:

Under the Conservatives, Canada has acted to defend itself and support its interests in a very dangerous world.  Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the spread of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Iran, and other threats to Canada’s security means that Canadians should continue to support the experienced team that we have put together.  Keeping the proven team in place will also help us build upon the Canada First Defence Strategy.

Our opponents propose to weaken Canada’s commitments to its allies by withdrawing from the fight against ISIS.  They were fickle while we were steadfast in supporting NATO in Afghanistan.  We will continue to support NATO.  We will continue to participate in the Reassurance Missions aimed at helping our eastern allies and deterring Russian aggression.

The priorities we set forth continue to be ones that Canadians support:

  • Defence of Canada and especially the Arctic
  • Defence of North America
  • Response to Terrorist attacks
  • Disaster relief and provision of security for major events
  • Support our allies when they are threatened
  • Contribute to International Peace and Security

Now that the budget is balanced, we will increase the defence budget to address rising costs associated with the newest weapons systems.  Our government, like previous ones, have faced many challenges as we have sought to procure defence systems.

We have innovated:

  • via independent panels to evaluate the requirements that the Canadian Armed Forces identity, which will lead to more transparency and greater clarity about what we do and do not need.
  • via leasing quickly that which cannot be bought and built quickly such as helicopters in Afghanistan and support ships for our navy.
  • via establishing an independent, third-party Defence Analytics Institute.
  • via establishing a Defence Procurement Secretariat within Public Works.

We will continue with the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy that will provide both the next generation of RCN vessels and ships that will help assert our rights to the Arctic.  We will soon make a decision on the fighter replacement, taking the responsible approach by considering all options thoroughly.

We will continue to improve the working conditions our men and women in uniform.  We will  implement the recommendations made by Justice Deschamps.  We have invested considerable resources to address the challenges of post traumatic stress disorder and suicides.

In this election, one party has experience and has been a responsible steward of the Canadian Armed Forces, the other parties either have no experience at all or responsible for many of the problems we inherited.  There is only one choice for a strong and secure Canada.

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