AT ISSUE: Jets nudge military issues from discussions

Tongue-wagging over defence spending hogs election spotlight

With a week and a half left before election day, several leading military experts say squabbling over military equipment purchases has overshadowed more pressing defence, security and foreign policy issues.

The Conservative government’s planned purchase of 65 new multi-billion-dollar F-35 Lightning II fighter jets has essentially sidetracked discussion about Canada’s changing role in Afghanistan, said Ottawa-based military watchdog Scott Taylor, editor and publisher of Esprit de Corps magazine.

Likewise, there is a great need for public debate on Canada’s role in the NATO-led mission in Libya, he said.

“We’ve jumped into this thing with both feet,” Taylor said. “The fact that our air force jumped in and that the government committed them, I do think a lot of it has to do with trying to sell Canadians on the need for modern fighter jets.”

When it comes to debates related to the military, campaigning politicians have spent a lot of time pointing fingers over money earmarked for new equipment, which may prove counterproductive.

“When it comes to defence and security affairs, people have a tendency to get involved in the details and the nitty gritty of things, like buying airplanes and ships,” said retired air force brigadier-general and Sidney resident Don Macnamara.

Campaign priorities should focus on Canadian security, prosperity and our country’s contribution to global stability, said Macnamara, a former professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

The acquisition of military hardware typically becomes a hotly contested issue when the writ is dropped, said retired army lieutenant-colonel Alex Morrison, now a Royal Roads University associate professor.

And that can set the military back. A case in point was when the Liberals cancelled the Conservatives’ 2004 purchase of new helicopters to replace the aging Sea King models.

Promises made by the Liberals to scrap, and by the NDP to delay the purchase of the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) planes will have expensive repercussions, said Morrison, who also works as director of RRU’s School of Peace and Conflict Management. “If the government wants Canada to have a well-equipped military, then it’s got to have a regular replacement policy.”

By now it should come as no surprise that military and foreign policy issues aren’t garnering much air time this election, said retired admiral John Anderson, former Chief of the Defence Staff and Canadian ambassador to NATO.

When the matter of moving CFB Esquimalt’s naval fleet command to Halifax was raised, it was just as quickly extinguished by the Conservatives, he noted.

“What wasn’t talked about was what was going to be focused here in Esquimalt,” said the North Saanich resident, who began his naval career at CFB Esquimalt.

“I think there’s more to the story and it’s unfortunate it got wrapped up in the middle of an election campaign.”

Elections should also serve as the perfect opportunity to determine, among other things, which party leader can best champion our national interests globally, Anderson said.

“It’s unfortunate, when we’re thinking about who ought to lead our country, there’s not a lot of looking in the mirror as to how a leader will function on the international stage.”

emccracken@vicnews.com

 

Candidates weigh-in

We asked candidates from the Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca riding, where CFB Esquimalt is located, what their top defence priorities are.

Those of New Democrat Randall Garrison include supporting veterans and ensuring the military can defend Canada and provide emergency and humanitarian disaster assistance.

The NDP are encouraging a review of the fighter jet acquisition. “We’ll see if that’s the right plane, because that’s very expensive,” he said.

Green Party candidate Shaunna Salsman said, “We are asking these soldiers to put their lives on their line and we should probably fund them and equip them. I’d like to support them with proper equipment and ensure their families are properly supported as well.”

If elected, Conservative candidate Troy DeSouza said he would work to bring more shipbuilding and Coast Guard jobs to Esquimalt.

“A re-elected Conservative government will continue to consistently support all of our men and women in uniform – army, navy, coast guard and air force – so they can all continue to do their jobs safely,” he said.

Canadian Action Party leader and candidate Christopher Porter said the military is best used in peacekeeping missions and the defence of our national interests, such as the Arctic.

“We believe that the troops and the defence should do exactly that, defend our country,” he said.

Liberal candidate Lillian Szpak’s priorities include supporting military families, promoting an open bidding process for equipment contracts and ensuring the navy is well-equipped.

“We want to make sure our ships are on the leading edge and they have the weaponry on them,” she said.

Independent candidate Louis Lesosky could not be reached for comment.

 

 

Just Posted

COVID-19 exposures have been reported at Colquitz Middle School and Tillicum Elementary School, both on June 14. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
Two Saanich schools report COVID-19 exposures

Exposures reported at Colquitz Middle School and Tillicum Elementary School

This conceptual rendering shows revisions to the proposed warehouse in Sidney on land under the authority of the Victoria Airport Authority. York Realty, which plans to build, then lease the building, said significant changes to the the massing and height of the building respond to community feedback. Additional feedback can be submitted until June 30. (Screencap/York Realty)
Sidney warehouse proposal lands Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce endorsement

Public has until June 30 to submit additional comments after significant modifications

Staff will be reviewing public feedback from second-stage designs for cycling infrastructure in James Bay, part of the City of Victoria’s 32-kilometre network. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria sends James Bay bike lanes choice to next phase

Design modifications based on community input to be delivered to council this summer

An eastern cottontail rabbit on the UVic campus. (Evert Lindquist/News Staff)
Wild rabbits persist at the University of Victoria

Feral rabbits are still absent, but another non-native species has arrived on campus

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
University of Victoria researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read