Sometimes You Need Some Straight Talk

The Canadian government has had a great deal of trouble in replacing their obsolete submarine fleet. It came to a head last year when the Canadians purchased four British Upholder class submarines. One of the subs, renamed the HMCS Chicoutimi, suffered from a series of accidents while it was being sailed to Canada from England. One crewman lost his life, and the boat was abandoned and had to be towed back to Britain by American and English vessels.

This has been a very embarrassing episode for the Canadian government and military. The civilian press has questioned the need for a silent service at all, something that appears nothing less than surreal to those of us who pay attention to military affairs. Last time I looked, Canada has more coastline to patrol than any other country in the world. Removing a vital asset such as a submarine fleet from your navy is a sure way to open gaping holes in the national defense.

But this is something that weíve come to expect from Canada. Itís inevitable that anything to do with the military will become politicized eventually, but it seems that the Canadian government has been all too ready to bare their countryís throat to any potential enemy in order to reap a short term advantage in the polls.

A recent article in the Canadian Military Journal lays it all out, and is highly recommended because of it.

The author, Peter T. Haydon, is a senior research fellow at the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies of Dalhousie University. Donít let that put you off, though. The article is obviously aimed at a civilian audience, with a decided lack of obscure military jargon. Haydon explains what submarines do better than any other ship, why Canada needs the boats, and what the options are.

Itís the last that is most important. Canada has very few options, mostly due to incessant meddling by the government. I see this article as an attempt to clear the air and counter some of that.

At any rate, go ahead and click right here. Itís well worth your time.

7 thoughts on “Sometimes You Need Some Straight Talk”

  1. “the Canadian government has been all too ready to bare their countryís throat to any potential enemy in order to reap a short term advantage in the polls.”

    Not entirely true, the Canadian government has been willing to lean on the US for their defence. If there was any real threat to Canadian national security then there would probably be some price to pay with the electorate. As it is, the US could never allow a foreign power to invade and occupy Canada.

    Whether one considers this to be right or not, it is entirely predictable. Canada suffers no penalty for weak defence and she is too small to have a global military. She is pretty much isolated, the only country that could threaten her is the US and she’d lose that war whatever. Everywhere else is too far away.

    The only way Canada’s forces could ever be sent around the world is on the back of a US military deployment, in which case the Americans would be doing the job anyway. If they weren’t, she’d be powerless. Moreover, the fact that she doesn’t fight many wars abroad means her own citizens are safer from terrorism (assuming the US continues to fight any necassary wars).

    Curently the US accounts for 47% of the world’s military spending (no link, I read it in a magazine). She is the only country that can afford the permanant infrastructure of a global power and thus the incentive to high military spending is greater. She could ask NATO (or a Pacific-orientated sucessor) to take over the cost of running the infrastructure and share the burden. However she would lose influence and I am uncertain that any countries (except the UK and Australia) would really want the extra cost, even if it brought greater influence.

    The curreent situation is therefore likely to continue.

  2. As it is, the US could never allow a foreign power to invade and occupy Canada.

    What a shame. I think I’d enjoy watching it.

  3. The CDF, however, is incapable of doing a lot of things that Canada’s politicians claim it can. For instance after the Boxing Day Tsunami last year, Canada, the PeaceKeeperNation, was largely left out because it has no heavy-lift capacity and usually relies on contractors (Ukrainian, often) to get them to where they need to go.

  4. This was a country which at one time with far less population and economy commanded enough might and will to have their own invasion beach, Juno, upon Normandy in 1944. One of five beaches! Today they bearly have the will to maintain a coast guard and a constabulary. Sic Transit Gloria.

  5. More to the point for Canada, there are occasional cases where US and Canadian defense policy doesn’t line up. For example, Canada lays claim to the Northwest Passage, but the USA (along with the EU and Japan) don’t recognize the Canadian claim. Canada lacks the navy to enforce its claim.

  6. John, it’s even worse than that. Someone had to tell them a US submarine had transited the disputed waters. Imagine what would happen to the US Navy’s top officers if Bush read something like that in the Washington Post.

Comments are closed.