“Canada First” Defence Strategy
Conflict is changing: While the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) impatiently waits in Thailand, hoping to be allowed into Burma to help with humanitarian aid after Cyclone Nargis, Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveils his “Canada First” defence strategy. Major components of the plan involve automatic increases in defence spending, a commitment to Arctic sovereignty, improvements in Canadian Forces infrastructure, and adding 5,000 troops to the regular force (bringing it to 70,000) as well as 6,000 reservists. The CBC and Globe and Mail both observe that most of these commitments have been made before, but quote Prime Minister Harper that this represents a “long-term plan” rather than a piecemeal approach.
The Toronto Star claims the lack of detail in the plan will generate skepticism among critics – and they may be right. Bloggers over at The Torch call the “Canada First” defence policy a complete disappointment, criticizing it as lacking substance. The National Post, however, quotes a reservist who claims the policy might be enough to convince him to join the regular forces.
In the five-page document outlining the policy, there’s no mention of specific goals or initiatives, though at the press conference the Prime Minister did say that defending the country and protecting Canadians at home are the main priorities – hence “Canada First”. How would this type of thinking play into decisions about, say, what to do with the DART if it’s not allowed into Burma? And what would a “Canada’s World First” defence strategy look like? Let us know in a comment on our blog, or on the forums on our website.