What accounts for the tight relationship between Canada’s Harper government and the voice of the military, the Conference of Defence Associations?
Why does the Harper government choose the CDA’s annual meeting to make important public policy announcements on this country’s foreign policy and defence strategy?
And why is it that these announcements invariably favor putting more money into the military, or gjving the military a more influential role in forming government policy?
On Friday, Defence Minister Peter McKay chose the annual meeting of these military advocacy groups to issue a scare headline about Russian planes supposedly having tested Canadian air space on the eve of President Obama’s visit to Ottawa.
McKay’s disclosure set up a nice PR follow-up by the Prime Minister. Mr. Harper rushed to the TV cameras to declare his “deep concern” about “Russian intrusions into our air space.”
In fact, there had been no intrusion. The Russians were on routine patrol in their air space and never invaded Canadian territory. A realistic headline would have read: RUSSIAN PLANES FLY AROUND OVER RUSSIA.
Last year, Mr. Harper chose the CDA meeting to announce that his government had reached an agreement with the Liberals to maintain Canadian troops in Afghanistan until 2011. “We are pleased there is fundamental common ground,” he assured the representatives of the military bloc in the room.
Since when did it become acceptable for government policy to be announced at a meeting of military groups, rather than in Parliament or in an open press conference?
The CDA web site describes the association as the “oldest and most influential group in Canada’s defence community” It says one of the CDA’s aims is “influencing government security and defence policy.”
It seems to me they’re doing a pretty good job of it.
We should never forget President Eisenhower’s warning against the “military-industrial complex.” It’s beginning to look as if Mr. Harper needs to be reminded of the peril of putting yourself in the hands of people whose existence depends on the maintenance of international insecurity and the promotion of military solutions to international problems.
Update: An interview Mr. Harper gave to CNN seems to conflict with his previous statements on Afghanistan. In an item broadcast Sunday he said, “Frankly, we are not going to ever defeat the insurgency.” Then he danced around the question of whether Canada would extend its military mission there. If we can’t defeat the insurgency, what is our army doing there? And why the need to spend more millions on the military?