Canada becoming military power again

Well, the headline might be a bit exaggerated. However, PM Harper has been clearly looking to increase Canada’s military foot print. Canada has ordered about 60 of the yet to be made F-35 fighter jets, which is the newest generation of advanced fighter jets.  They have also said that they will have an increased presence in Canada’s Arctic region to protect the sovereignty, specifically from Russia in this case. Obviously, we know about Canada’s participation in Afghanistan, but that began before PM Harper was in charge. Most recently however, we have seen Canada take a much more active role in international military missions, specifically in Libya.

The military action against Libya was the first international military mission that began while PM Harper was in power. This gave him the opportunity to make all the decisions on how involved Canada will be in such a situation, unlike Afghanistan which started before his government took office. PM Harper has put Canada right up front in this military mission against Libya. Several Canadian Forces assets, including fighter jets, navy assets and personnel have all taken an active role, along with various other countries. Make no mistake, if former PM Martin or former PM Chretien was in charge during this mission, Canada would have definitely taken a more humanitarian and supporting role like they have done for several decades now (not including Afghanistan).

There are certainly costs to Canadians from this as military operations are not cheap. However, there is also potential to profit from this new strategy in various ways. The first is the potential of stronger economic ties with the country they are attacking, since it was asked for by the opposition. Stronger economic ties may also come from the allies in these operations, although this is less likely since Canada already has strong ties with most of the other countries in that coalition. If Canada maintains this new, more militaristic global stance then it could boost what is currently a small military equipment industry in Canada. Military products and services is a very big and lucrative industry to be in and it usually is big in countries with respected armies.

The other potential benefit from having a more active military is national pride. Canada is not a country that has a lot of national pride, although Canadians don’t like to admit it. It is also something that is difficult to quantify in dollars. However, more pride can increase sales of government merchandise, raise the morale and even the productivity of the Canadian public. Again, how much impact this would really have in Canada is very tough to say, but the hope is that it will result in a net positive versus the cost of the increase in military expenses.